Mental health is a sensitive topic to broach. In some countries, it can even be a taboo topic, with reactions bordering on outright denial that the problem exists or not taking the problem as seriously as it should be. Children and adolescents who suffer from mental health-related issues are often dismissed as being problematic.
Even as children are more vulnerable to mental health issues, some groups within this demographic are more susceptible to developing psychological issues such as depression, anxiety and PTSD. Children and adolescents whom their families abandon, orphans or runaways, are one such vulnerable group.
Taking a community-based approach to raise awareness about mental health and related psychological issues, providing them with the assistance they need, and helping increase acceptance that mental health is acceptable to talk about and break the taboo surrounding the subject.
Guidelines will need to be formulated in the community to implement acceptable ways to care for orphans and children needing psychological assistance. For this awareness to happen, frequent interactions with the community at large will help them learn about interacting with people who suffer from poor mental health.
It is important to remember that those who need the help the most may not be very willing to accept they have a problem or maybe good at hiding it. Thus, it will take a great deal of patience and understanding to get them to open up about their struggles and seek help.
Losing their primary caregiver can give rise to attachment issues in children, which can have long term after-effects, such as insecurity, inability to maintain relationships, depression, etc. Children who have lost their parents to traumatic events such as war or persecution may also exhibit symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
As strategies for addressing the psychological needs of orphans are developed, open conversations must be encouraged with them. Interacting in a way that inspires confidence will ensure that comprehensive solutions are drawn up to address the psycho-social and spiritual needs of the individuals involved.