Jan A. Monsbakken, Past President of Rehabilitation International (RI) (Norway)
Jan Monsbakken, the Past President of Rehabilitation International (RI), has traveled around the world speaking out on behalf of the rights for persons with disabilities. Before becoming President of Rehabilitation International in 2012, he served on a range of organizations including as a board member of the European Disability Forum from 1998 to 2005, treasurer of the International Federation of Psoriasis Associations from 1997 to 2007, and Deputy Vice-President and President-Elect of Rehabilitation International. He has also been actively involved in many international research projects in disability and psoriasis, as well as the Norwegian Women’s Public Health Association. A native of Oslo, Mr. Monsbakken started his career as the Director of Negotiations for the Norwegian Nurses Association.
“Mental Health problems is increasing globally. Especially among young  people in many countries and societies. Worldwide 10-20% of children and adolescents experience mental health disorders. Half of all mental health illnesses begin by the age of 14 and 75% starts before 25 years of age. Thus we can say that mental health problems is strongly linked to childhood and youth.
Neuropsychiatric conditions are the prominent cause of disability in young people in all regions of the world. Recent studies have identified that depression- in particular- is the largest cause of burden of the disease among young people.
If untreated, these conditions severely influence children’s development, their education and their potential to live fulfilling and productive lives. They also face major challenges with stigma, isolation and discrimination. Data indicates that even in high income countries as US and Canada fewer than half of adolescents with mental health problems receive needed care.
Why is the situation like this: Mental Health Disorders are not on the top of the political agenda and in all societies it is still shameful to have a mental disorder. In order to improve this situation its crucial to get as stronger focus in the society on this issue. We need strong advocacy and political agents to change this. Civil Society Organizations, Professional Organizations and other stakeholders must play an important role to change this situation.”

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