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State of the World’s Children, Caring for Children’s Mental Health


HONG KONG/15 October 2021 - The COVID-19 pandemic has raised concerns about the mental health of a generation of children. Yet the pandemic may represent the tip of a mental health iceberg - an iceberg we have ignored for far too long.

The State of the World’s Children 2021 just published, examines child, adolescent and caregiver mental health. This annual flagship report focuses on risks and protective factors at critical moments in the life course and delves into the social determinants that shape mental health and well-being.

According to the latest available estimates, more than 1 in 7 adolescents aged 10–19 are estimated to live with a diagnosed mental disorder globally. Almost 46,000 adolescents die from suicide each year, among the top five causes of death for their age group. Meanwhile, wide gaps persist between mental health needs and mental health funding. The report finds that there is only about 2 percent of government health budgets are allocated to mental health spending globally.

And we need to act globally: We need to better support parents so they can better support their children; we need schools that meet children’s social and emotional needs; we need to lift mental health out of its ‘silo’ in the health system and address the needs of children, adolescents and caregivers across a range of systems, including parenting, education, primary health care, social protection and humanitarian response; and we need to improve data and research to better understand the prevalence of mental health conditions and to improve responses.

Locally, according to the Hong Kong Hospital Authority, number of psychiatric patients aged below 18 increased from 28,810 in 2015/16 to 40,350 in 2019/20. UNICEF HK is deeply concerned on children and adolescents’ mental health and the rising trend. Members of the society need to act now to mobilize more resources to address the children in need of mental health service, and strengthen the capacity in building mental resilience among children and adolescents.

This is a historic chance to commit, communicate and take action to promote, protect and care for the mental health of a generation. Together we can provide a foundation of a generation equipped to pursue their dreams, reach their potential and contribute to the world.

For an interactive view of data from ‘The State of the World’s Children 2021’ report: /upload/NewsMedia/publication/SOWC-2021-full-report-English.pdf

For media enquiries, please contact:

Hong Kong Committee for UNICEF

Ms Wong       Tel: 2836 2905

Mr Huang       Tel: 2836 2929            Email:[email protected]