| Feb 5, 2024
Suicide is the top cause of teen deaths in Spain
- The consequences of not addressing the mental health issues of children and adolescents are severe. Suicide is the leading cause of death among teenagers and young people aged 15 to 29 in Spain.
- 30% of children who grow up in alternative care experience mental health problems in adulthood, nearly double the estimates for the general population.
- Aldeas Infantiles SOS works to make the right to good mental health a reality for vulnerable children and youth.
8% of children and 14% of adolescents live with a mental health problem, and 80% of those who require specialized care do not receive it. Failing to properly address the mental health of children and adolescents can have serious consequences. Unresolved trauma and psychological difficulties can hinder their development and limit their opportunities to lead fulfilling lives and reach their full potential. Aldeas Infantiles SOS asserts this as World Mental Health Day approaches.
"If left untreated, mental health problems can lead teenagers and young people to drop out of the education system, as well as impair their ability to work and build lasting relationships, and we cannot forget that suicide is the leading cause of death among teenagers and young people aged 15 to 29 in Spain," state those from the organization dedicated to direct care for children.
Therefore, Aldeas Infantiles SOS calls for an increase in budgets allocated to mental health to increase preventive policies and early intervention, as well as awareness campaigns to inform and combat the social stigma surrounding these illnesses. Aldeas also demands specialized teams for diagnosing and treating the effects of childhood abuse.
Investment in mental health must reach families living in vulnerable situations. Unstable and challenging family environments, whether due to socioeconomic circumstances or other reasons, can negatively impact the mental health of children. "Addressing the causes of stress in families can have beneficial effects in promoting good mental health, both for children and for the rest of the family."
The more vulnerable, the greater the risk to mental health. Children and adolescents who have lost parental care or are at risk of losing it are exposed to a higher risk of mental health problems. In fact, 30% of children in foster care experience mental health problems in adulthood, nearly double the estimates for the general population.
Often, they have experienced high levels of stress, traumatic experiences, and adverse childhood experiences, including separation from their family. "The separation of a child from their family affects their ability to trust others and build healthy relationships and has serious consequences for the development of their personality, including low self-esteem, attachment disorders, and anxiety. That's why appropriate therapeutic work, creating safe and reliable environments, and their resilience capacities are essential," explain those from Aldeas Infantiles SOS.
Additionally, the pressure on the mental health of children and adolescents growing up in alternative care is exacerbated when they reach adulthood and have to leave the protection system, often with little or no help to manage their transition to independent life.
"These young people need adequate support if we don't want them to be relegated to social exclusion. This includes financial support, access to housing, and job opportunities, all of which are beneficial for their mental well-being and, therefore, strengthen their ability to build their lives independently."
Aldeas Infantiles SOS works to make the right to good mental health a reality for children, adolescents, and young people in vulnerable situations. In all its programs, whether foster care, preventive, or support for young people, it provides individual psychological care to children, adolescents, and young people living in difficult personal or family situations. It also has family therapy services to prevent a worsening of risk situations while contributing to improving family relationships by providing the necessary tools.
The organization also conducts interventions tailored to each situation, including individual, family, group, or animal-assisted therapies, always seeking the greatest effectiveness and considering their scientific evidence.
"Regardless of the type of therapy that best suits each individual, the goal is the same: to accompany them in their emotional recovery process and offer them the necessary tools to manage their emotions and cope with adversity," assert those from the organization, who also work with families to improve their parenting skills and promote protective education based on affection and respect, which directly impacts the mental health of their children.
Promoting good mental health is one of the goals of the United Nations, outlined in Sustainable Development Goal 3: ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages.