Samoa Victim Support Group (SVSG) Auckland joins the international community in observing and celebrating International Youth Day 12th August 2014.
As of January 1 2014, the world’s population totalled 7,137,661,030 and continues to grow. Today’s adolescents and youth are 1.8 billion strong and make up one quarter of the world’s population. On 17 December 1999, the United Nations General Assembly endorsed the recommendation made by the World Conference of Ministers Responsible for Youth (Lisbon, 8-12 August 1998) that 12 August be declared International Youth Day. The purpose of the day is to draw attention to a given set of cultural and legal issues surrounding youth. The first IYD was observed on 12 August, 2000.
It is meant as an opportunity for governments and others to draw attention to youth issues worldwide. During IYD, concerts, workshops, cultural events, and meetings involving national and local government officials and youth organizations take place around the world.
Each year, International Youth Day focuses on a particular theme, drawing its attention particularly to the most vulnerable groups in our populations. In 2013, the thematic focus was ‘Youth Migration: Moving Development Forward’, with a specific focus of raising awareness on young migrants. Whilst the number of young migrants amongst total international migration is staggering, very little is known about these young people. The IYD celebration 2013 was hoped to offer some visibility to the lives of these young migrants through organizing commemoration events on the theme across the globe.
The theme of International Youth Day 2014 is “Youth and Mental Health.” Youth with mental health conditions can often experience stigma and discrimination, which in turn can lead to exclusion and/or discourage people from seeking help for fear of being negatively ‘labelled’. 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.
This is strategically a significant theme given that young people from the ages of 10-24 make up a staggering 1.8 billion (a quarter) of the world’s population. In Samoa the last census (2011) show youth make up a significant proportion of Samoa’s general population. Of Samoa’s 187,820 general population, 117,113 were between the ages of 0 -29, presenting Samoa with some very unique challenges in the areas of health, education and employment but also several opportunities.
The Samoa Victim Support Group (SVSG) is currently one of the few organisations that work with young people with mental health issues. The SVSG believes in investing young people as a critical point of Samoa’s development, by promoting healthy habits and ensuring education and employment opportunities, access to health services. Despite this commitment, the SVSG is struggling to provide enough resource and people support under the current limited funding it receives. In the spirit of International Youth Day we are calling upon the government of Samoa, as well as international non-governmental organisations and agencies, particularly those who will gather in Samoa this year for the SIDS conference to prioritise the youth of Samoa, especially those dealing with mental health issues.
Young people are the key to building a sustainable future because the choices they make now will reverberate for decades to come. Providing appropriate mental health services and investing in education – especially for girls – can strengthen communities and help achieve a range of development goals.
*Published on Samoa Victim Support Group (SVSG) Auckland website 11.08.14 http://svsgauckland.org.nz/svsg-auckland-international-youth-day-12-august-2014-2/