Fighting mental health

Professor Ofa Swann. Picture: JAKE CABANIUK/FILE

MENTAL health issues affecting children are not taken seriously in the Pacific.

This is the view of human rights activist and childhood trauma and depression advocate, Avenai Serutabua.

“Childhood trauma can have a lifelong effect,” he said.

Mr Serutabua said parents should be more vigilant in recognising the signs of depression and isolation in their children.

“It’s important to recognise when your child may need professional help in dealing with trauma. “Early intervention could prevent your child from experiencing ongoing effects of the trauma as an adult.”

He added that apart from traumatic events, there were other issues that could contribute to mental health challenges for kids.

“Stressors that contribute to mental health issues and suicidal behaviours are triggered by unemployment, social and cultural expectations, family relationship breakdowns, bullying, violence and abuse.

It’s also important to remember that just because a child endured a tragedy or a near-death experience, doesn’t mean he’ll automatically be traumatised.

“Some kids are much less affected by their circumstances than others.”

University of the South Pacific psychologist Ofa Swan said human thought processes and behaviour were multilayered and rarely simple.

“Our behaviour has multiple causes which come together to produce a specific response,” Ms Swan added.