August 14, 2014 (SSNA) — The theme of the 2014 International Youth Day is” Youth and Mental Health”, under the motto Mental Health Matters. As we celebrated and commemorate this day today, mental health is being recognized as an important development issue, especially in the war affected areas. Studies suggest that major depression and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) are prevalent and chronic among refugee and displaced populations and the impact of trauma is long term. Failure to address mental health and psychological disorders in populations that have experience mass murder and trauma caused by the conflict will impede efforts to enhance social capital, promote human development and reduced poverty. Support for mental health in conflict-affected societies can thus make an important contribution to the Millennium Development Goals.
The 2014 observance of International Youth Day will raise awareness on this important topic, as well as highlight the experiences of brave, young individuals who have chosen to speak out about these issues with the objective of overcoming stigma and discrimination to ensure that young people with mental health conditions can lead full and healthy lives free from isolation and unnecessary shame, and openly seek the services and support they need.
The South Sudan National Development Youth policy of 2013 provide an integrated, holistic and coordinated framework in the development of young men and women, creating greater understanding, recognition and commitment to the challenges, interests and contribution of young people, fostering more active participation in governance, democracy and socio-economic development. It aims at contributing toward the attainment of peaceful and prosperous South Sudan where all young men and women without discrimination, violence and abuse fully develop their potential; wholly, freely and consciously participate in shaping their future and that of their country
As we mark this day, we remember the victims of Juba Massacre, Bor UNMISS Mass murder, Malakal and Bentiu ethnic cleansing and the brutal targeting of young people for speaking out against injustice and genocide.
As we celebrate, let’s remember the sacrifices of our gallant and brave young people serving in the white Army, SPLA-Resistant Forces in defense of our dignity, freedom, rights to life and existence from the tyranny, genocidal and dictatorial regime in Juba. Let us remember youth with mental health, orphans, street children, and the war affected youth in refugee camps, IDPs and in other war affected areas.
I urge and encourage the various committees of the Resistant Movement-SPLM/SPLA, Governors and County Commissioners of the Free Liberated Areas, Civil Society Organizations, UN and international humanitarian agencies, IGAD and AU to prioritized youth programs designed to address challenges faced by young people with mental health issues to enable all youth achieve their full potential, aspirations and goals.