Press note

World Mental Health Day: The “Zanmi Timoun” Foundation invites political actors to reflect on the consequences of the political crisis on the mental health of children in Haiti

The day of October 10 was dedicated to education and public awareness on mental health, this year the emphasis is on the living environment as a place of care and caring space in that the chosen theme is: My planet, my sanity. The “Zanmi Timoun” Foundation, an organization for the defense and promotion of children’s rights, takes advantage of this circumstance to remind the Haitian State and inform the population of the possible consequences of the country’s socio-political instability on health. mental health of residents, particularly children. Indeed, the World Health Organization defines mental health as a state of well-being in which a person can realize themselves, overcome the normal tensions of life, accomplish productive work and contribute to the life of their community.
While in Haiti, the population has been living for five (5) years in political instability and a socio-economic crisis which has led to popular movements in the ten departments of the country. Repeated fuel shortages, armed gang clashes, kidnappings, massacres of the civilian population, displacement of families and communities are, among other things, the results of these crises which considerably affect children and young adolescents. Added to this, the population finds itself, since the tragic assassination of President Jovenel MOISE by local and foreign mercenaries, in political instability where the state apparatuses are dysfunctional. Democracy, the rule of law and human rights are in decline.
The scientific literature highlights that the socio-psychological context has a major importance in the appearance of certain disorders, in particular depression. The latter, about which the population is beginning to learn more from professionals in the field, is a mental illness which can lead to suicide, of which statistics from the World Health Organization (WHO) revealed in 2002 that 154 million people in the world suffered.
Furthermore, a survey by the Haitian Institute of Statistics and Informatics reveals in September 2022 that 61% of people with mental illnesses are under the age of 25. However, the country does not have any specialized center that can welcome and care for adults, let alone children who suffer from mental illnesses.
Taking facts and causes, the “Zanmi Timoun” Foundation urges the Haitian State to take all necessary measures to stem this multidimensional crisis in order to facilitate an environment favorable to balanced and inclusive mental health. Particular attention must be paid to children and young people who witness, when they are not forced by physical or psychological means to participate, all day long in shootings, burnings (of people and property), cases of kidnapping, looting, rape and robbery. In addition, schools and universities remain closed due to lack of security and protection from the government of the Republic, which has completely failed in its mission to protect human rights.
The “Zanmi Timoun” Foundation is launching a call for consultation and initiative for the protection of the country’s youth. Political, economic, social and religious actors must remember that the children who take over in the country are among the main victims of their bad policies and their lack of concern for collective well-being. She invites civil society actors to take concrete actions to force the country’s leaders to take concrete measures for human security in the country in general and the protection of children in particular.

Done in Port-au-Prince, October 10, 2021

Joseph Richard FORTUNE
Communications and advocacy manager
(509) 3187 7363 / 3387 06 88