In Greek migrant camps, the numbers of children self-harming is rising, says a report by Karolina Tagaris, writing for Yahoo News Singapore. Packed with refugees and migrants from the surrounding areas, these camps are extremely difficult for many children, some of whom are resorting to self-harm to cope with emotional and mental distress.

Migrants Trapped Between Nations

In 2016, the European Union crafted a deal with Turkey, limiting the incoming tide of migrants and refugees streaming to Europe through Greece and its islands. However, the deal resulted in a number of Greek migrant camps where adults and children are stuck, without much hope for the future. These people are seeking asylum, but there are too many of them to process at once; so they remain in the camps, waiting for the documents that will allow them sanctuary.

Families Forced to Live in Camps

In these camps, overcrowding is severe, almost twice the capacity for which the camps were designed. According to workers with the international charity organisation Save the Children, camp denizens struggle to survive, fighting each other to obtain dry spaces for sleeping, food for themselves and their families, blankets, and warm water for washing. The poor conditions within the camps are triggering sharp increases in anxiety, depression, aggression, self-harm, suicide attempts.

Children Lost in Despair

Compiled by Save the Children, a report on the condition of the refugees describes the situation. The document claims that “One of the most shocking and appalling developments Save the Children staff have witnessed is the increase in suicide attempts and self-harm amongst children as young as nine.” The situation is so desperate that one twelve-year-old boy watched other kids attempting suicide before filming his own suicide effort. Drug use, physical aggression towards others, and self-injury are all signs that the children in these camps have lost hope.

A partner organisation to Save the Children, a group called Praksis, also commented on the situation. “The conditions are turning children from young people who are calm and full of dreams to people who want to harm property, others and themselves,” said a Praksis staff member. Another worker said, “The living conditions have made them lose hope and made them feel like animals and objects— not exactly human, but inferior human beings.”

Young People Overwhelmed by the Pressures of Life

Similar issues can arise among children in other impoverished areas of the world, and even in prosperous nations like Singapore. Children and teens are too young to feel the weight of adult-level pressures, and when those pressures fall on their shoulders, their mental health can suffer. Trouble at home, conflict with friends, school pressures, poverty, and a general lack of hope may turn adolescents towards drugs and self-harm.

Victims Guided to Hope

Do you know a young person who seems to be under immense pressure? Perhaps you have concerns about signs of self-harm or drug use in your child or a friend’s child. Encourage that young person to get help in a safe, secure space like the offices of Adelphi Psych Medicine Clinic. Our services span all ages, and we have Singapore psychiatrists and psychologists on staff who specialise in a variety of issues, including children’s mental health in Singapore. Contact us today to find help before the despair and depression get worse.

News Feed from Adelphi Psych Medicine Clinic

Source: Yahoo News Singapore, March 16, 2017