Press note

The “Zanmi Timoun” Foundation gives particular priority to the mental health of children

Celebrated annually on October 10, World Mental Health Day highlights the challenges faced by people with mental disorders and aims to reduce the stigma associated with these issues. This is an important opportunity to raise public awareness of the importance of mental health and to promote concrete actions towards mental well-being. In Haiti, in relation to the increase in violence and acts of crime, it is imperative to support victims of mental problems in general and children in particular.

Each year, the World Health Organization chooses a specific theme for World Mental Health Day to highlight a particular aspect of this important subject. The theme chosen for this year is: “Mental health, a universal human right” Article 24 of the International Convention on the Rights of the Child underlines the right of every child to “enjoy the best possible state of health and to benefit medical services”, recalling the obligation for the State to ensure “that no child is deprived of the right to have access to effective health services”.

Mental health issues among children in Haiti are a significant concern. After tragic events such as: the various attacks by armed groups in neighborhoods such as Carrefour-Feuilles, Thomazeau, Solino, Bel-Air, Onaville, Petite Rivière de l’Artibonite, Lestère and Verrettes, many people, including children , are prone to post-traumatic stress disorder. The impact of these events on children’s mental health is significant and requires special attention.

It is essential to recognize and address mental health issues among children in Haiti. This may include psychotic disorders, neurodevelopmental disorders and other mental health problems specific to this population such as anxiety disorders, attention disorders, hyperactivity… Training and community awareness are also important aspects to improve the management of mental health problems of children in Haiti.

Despite relative visibility in the media, mental health and psychological disorders remain largely unknown to the general public. Because they lie between fascination, fantasy, taboo and repulsion. These preconceived ideas have direct consequences on the lives of children and young people. Received ideas, under the guise of common sense, can spread unjustified fears and hasty conclusions about children suffering from mental health disorders, for example: they may represent a danger to other children. Even worse. This can slow down the use of certain care and can worsen the state of suffering of affected children. Ultimately, the whole of society suffers, fueling fantasized and false visions of this subject, which in fact concerns absolutely everyone.

The “Zanmi Timoun” Foundation recalls that it is crucial to continue to put in place programs and resources to meet the mental health needs of children in Haiti and to work to reduce the stigma associated with these problems. Furthermore, she believes that by providing adequate support, we could help children recover and develop their resilience in the face of the challenges they face. It is the responsibility of the State to act to ensure that the right to mental health of children is respected. By working together, healthcare professionals, organizations and the community can help support children’s mental health and get them the care they need.

Done in Port-au-Prince, October 10, 2023

Manoach PRESNA
Program Manager
Tel: 509 3746 7196/3396 1778