April 7 is the official World Health Day. This year, the theme is depression.
Read our intern Dom's article about depression and how it relates to the refugee crisis
Depression affects us all, regardless of race, religion or any other social or political inclination. It affects every age group, from children to the elderly, and it affects both the strong and the weak. On the Syrian border, over 75,000 refugee's huddle together in desperation, many of them are children. The atrocities people are forced to witness have the potential to leave mental scars which could last a lifetime. The refugees of Syria are facing what could potentially be a mass mental health crisis, one with the potential to damage several generations. Depression, as a western concept, is often tied to very understandable – albeit distressing – ideas: The death of a loved one, failed relationships, a lack of understanding from the people around you. The refugees of Syria face similar oppressions, brought on by much more sinister circumstances; a child watching their parents be killed by a car bomb, or a younger sibling succumb to Cholera or Hepatitis, people being maimed by artillery.
World Health Day seeks to shed more light on depression, in order to give breathing room, and hopefully a solution, to anyone suffering from it. We at Refugee Utility Project want to help spread this message while alerting people to the potential mental health crisis in Syria. On a global scale, over 300 million people currently suffer from depression. The absolute worst case scenario of depression can lead to suicide, which is the second leading cause of death in young people under 30. There are many different levels of depression; someone with no history of manic episodes or mental illness can suffer from serve depression – everyone is susceptible to it.
Save the children's new report, aptly titled 'Invisible wounds', describes the refugee children of Syria as “Psychologically crushed and tired”, a state of mental welfare no human should have to experience in their youth. The concept of death and our own mortality – something which many of us here in the west are intelligently shielded from at very young ages, until we are mature enough to comprehend it – is aggressively forced upon the refugee children of Syria, with children as young as 12 years old, and probably even younger, witnessing atrocities. Two-thirds of refugee children have lost a loved one, suffered from war-related injury or scarring, or have had their homes due to shelling.
You can read the full report here
These children are growing into adults in the midst of war, the ones who aren't radicalized – children as young as 15 have been sighted carrying assault rifles at checkpoints – suffer from debilitating stress, which leads to episodes easily brought on from foreign sounds, loud noises and so on.
Refugee Utility Project seeks to raise awareness for the children of Syria and the impending mental health crisis developing there. Together, we can address this issue and bring an end to the mental health crisis befalling the children of Syria. Schools play a large factor in the state of mental health in children, and by assisting RUP in our goals to provide education to refugee children, you could directly impact the state of refugee children's mental welfare.
Please follow this link for more information.