2537) Armenia: Experiences Of A Country In Transition

Ara Babloyan1, Khachatur Gasparyan2, Marina Melkumova1, Eva Movsesyan1, Naira Sargsyan3, Sergey Sargsyan1, Marina Tosalakyan2, Gevorg Yeghiyan2, Maruke Yeghiyan2.

1 Arabkir Joint Medical Center – Institute of Child and Adolescent Health of Armenia, Yerevan.

2 Armenian Association of Child Psychiatrists and Psychologists, Yerevan.

3 UNICEF Armenian office, Yerevan.

Executive summary

Armenia declared its independence in 1991. Immediately following this, disruption of trade and production led to a severe economic crisis and a rise in poverty. The crisis was complicated by the consequences of the devastating earthquake and
armed confl ict over Nagorno Karabagh.

Economic progress has been evident in Armenia since 2000, but inequalities between social groups are still present. These factors have combined to impact critically on the health status – including mental health – of the population. The rapid changes have also signifi cantly affected the general health and mental health status of children and young people. Indeed, the whole population has been forced to change their behaviours and overall lifestyle to adapt to the new situation. . .

The recent HBSC survey has shown how transition has affected the behaviour of young people in Armenia. Participating adolescents who lived in villages were less satisfi ed with life than their high-school counterparts living in the capital city of Yerevan and in other towns (this was an expected result, refl ecting geographical inequalities). Adolescents considered themselves generally healthy, but reported a number of complaints. Unexpectedly high levels of bullying and abuse were identifi ed. Although the suicide rate in Armenia is not high, 9% of boys and 10% of girls had thought about suicide; the same number of young people considered using alcohol to overcome psychological difficulties.

Some 90% of males and 85% of females reported having close friends, and the rate of reported sexual activity in Armenian adolescents was among the lowest in Europe.

Generally, the survey results show that the traditional Armenian family structure still plays an important role in the lives of adolescents and, in some situations, can be considered a positive health asset. On the other hand, the family is not able to fully protect adolescents from new threats, and the role of social factors and mechanisms for establishing social cohesion in Armenian society is also crucial.

According to the Association of Child Psychiatrists and Psychologists, risk factors that have an impact on adolescent mental health include: poverty, parental loss, child abuse and family confl ict; problems related to parental migration; chronic health problems in family members; and parental substance misuse. Many children do not receive treatment for mental health problems due to lack of awareness, fear of stigma or lack of access to appropriate services. At the same time, “old-fashioned” approaches to health, which eschew social and psychological elements of health in favour of biomedical ones, remain popular with some care providers.

The HBSC data emphasized the scope of problems faced in Armenia in relation to adolescent mental health. In response, the Ministry of Health has developed the concept of “Youth-friendly health services” which are now being introduced with support from UNICEF. The Association of Child Psychiatrists and Psychologists has launched the “Child-adolescent mental health care service” project and has developed a position paper on reforming mental health care for children and adolescents.. .

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Armenia Experiences Of A Country In Transition.pdf


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