Ensuring that children and adolescents have access to quality mental health services is a moral imperative and investment in the future
Athens, Greece | Xinhua | A new program launched by the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Regional Office for Europe in cooperation with the Greek government on Monday will place the support for and promotion of the quality of mental health care for children and adolescents in all the region’s 53 countries “at the heart of the COVID-19 recovery,” the office said in a press release.
The launch ceremony in Copenhagen coincided with the inauguration of the WHO Athens Quality of Care Office in Greece’s capital.
The program is the result of an ongoing partnership and collaboration between WHO Europe and the government of Greece across the health system spectrum, including the areas of quality of care and patient safety.
“Mental health and well-being is a fundamental human right that should be at the heart of our health systems and key to recovery from the COVID-19 emergency. The pandemic has affected everyone in society, but the most vulnerable, including children and young people, have suffered the most,” the WHO’s Regional Director for Europe, Dr. Hans Kluge, said. The program will “help to mitigate and reduce the long-term damage this pandemic has done to mental health.”
In 2015 there were over 4,000 suicides among the 10 to 19-year-olds in the region, he noted.
Ensuring that children and adolescents have access to quality mental health services is a moral imperative and investment in the future, as around 50 percent of all mental health problems in adulthood have their onset during or before adolescence, he explained.
According to Kluge, the new program will also provide support to the millions affected by the Russia-Ukraine conflict.
“It is clear that, whether it is because of an unprecedented pandemic or a sudden humanitarian crisis, meeting people’s mental health needs — especially those of children and young people — must be at the heart of any functioning health system,” Kluge said.
The program will support the development of national strategies, frameworks and the sharing of lessons learned across the European region with concrete steps and solutions,” he said.
“We all fought for more than two years with an unknown enemy and we are not done yet. We have to think about what it will be like to coexist with COVID in the long run,” Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said at the launch ceremony. Mitsotakis himself has just made full recovery from COVID-19.