Nyandeng says prison not for mentally ill children

Nyandeng says prison not for mentally ill children
Vice President for Youth and Gender Cluster, Rebecca Nyandeng (photo credit: The City Review)

The Vice President, Rebecca Nyandeng de Mabior, has appealed for the kind treatment of children with mental problems.

Nyandeng, who is also the Chair of the Gender Cluster, overseeing the social wellbeing of children and people with disabilities in the country, said the rights of children with mental illness have not been respected.

“There are also children living with mental problems, and instead of us helping them, taking them for counselling, healing, we take them into prison. Prison is not for people who have trauma; they need counselling,” said Nyandeng.

She added, “Let us work together to reform our children. They are not animals; they are our children, and they are like us. “

Speaking last week at the governors’ forum in Juba, Nyandeng lamented that South Sudan has witnessed a surge in the number of street children. She called on leaders to address the issue of homeless children in the county.

“We have a lot of children on the street, and for some, like me, who was born and grew up in this country, we never had street children, and now we have a lot of them on the streets.

“It is our work to see that these children are taken off the streets,” she emphasised.

According to Nyandeng, the war in the country has had a great negative impact on the mental health of children, leading to an increase in the number of street children in major towns such as Juba, Malakal, Wau, Torit, and Aweil, among others.

The impact of the lack of a properly functioning psychiatric centre, coupled with years of violence and armed conflicts, has left thousands of young people battling serious conditions in the country.

The World Health Organization estimates that during humanitarian emergencies, rates of mental disorders can increase by 4 per cent for severe conditions and up to 20 per cent for mild to moderate disorders requiring care and support.

Due to the effects of war, South Sudan now has an untold number of South Sudanese, including children, suffering from depression, anxiety, and other mental health conditions with no access to counselling and psychiatric centres.