THIS World Mental Health Day, we take a look at the role a child’s mental well-being plays in their development and learning abilities. | File picture: Pexels
THIS World Mental Health Day, we take a look at the role a child’s mental well-being plays in their development and learning abilities. | File picture: Pexels

World Mental Health Day: this is what can cause mental health issues later in your child’s life

By Yasmine Jacobs Time of article published Oct 10, 2021

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Cape Town – We often highlight mental health and why it is important to take care of it, but what does not get spoken about enough is children’s mental well-being.

This World Mental Health Day we take a look at the role a child’s mental well-being plays in a their development and learning abilities.

Adverse experiences leading to mental health issues have a big impact on a child’s development if not addressed at an early stage.

Mental health challenges often develop in early childhood. These issues can be caused by many factors including abuse, neglect, abandonment, lack of care and affection, violence and family separation. It can also be caused by isolation, family stress and unstable care environments.

Research shows that the absence of responsive relationships poses a serious threat to a child’s development and well-being.

Abandonment, separation or loss of a caregiver are among the most common causes of future mental illness, according to research.

These often have serious consequences for a child’s personality development and may result in low self-esteem, attachment disorders and anxiety.

It is for this reason that SOS Children’s Villages in South Africa joined forces with organisations like REPSSI, Synergos and Phola to build the capacity of staff to respond to and manage mental health issues.

“The staff used tools such as the Tree of Life to hold healing and helping conversations among themselves and the children. One of the mental health effects of Covid-19 is isolation. The intervention aimed at bringing people together to connect emotionally despite the distance. This enabled programmes at SOS Children’s Villages to focus on restoring hope for the future and a sense of purpose to the children”, said Sipelile Kaseke, Head of Programmes for SOS Children’s Villages in South Africa.

Covid-19 pandemic affect on mental health

The pandemic has exacerbated negative mental health outcomes but has also led to increased conversations on the issue of reducing stigma.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), mental health challenges, such as anxiety and depression, will be the leading cause of lost healthy years by 2030.

Suicide is the fourth leading cause of death among young people and almost one million people die due to suicide every year.

An estimated one in four people globally will experience a mental health condition in their lifetime.

The cost of mental health

The economic cost of mental health problems is vast - especially for a developing nation like South Africa.

Poor mental health is both a cause and a consequence of poverty, compromised education, gender inequality and ill-health, violence. It impedes the individual’s capacity to work productively and make a contribution to their community.

How a parent’s mental well-being affects their child’s well-being

The mental well-being of caregivers is closely linked with children’s well-being and development.

High levels of stress and mental health issues of parents and other caregivers put children at increased risk of neglect and violence as well as reducing their own mental well-being.

SOS Children’s Villages calls for more investment in mental health programmes for vulnerable children and caregivers across South Africa.

If you want to donate and support the work of the organisation towards mental health, psycho-social support and other health initiatives, go to


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