UNICEF Bulgaria: 1 in 5 deaths among adolescents is caused by intentional self-harm

The UN Children’s Fund launches a campaign to support Bulgarian children and adolescents to overcome depression and anxiety

10 October 2021
 1 от 5 смъртни случая сред младежите е причинен от самонараняване
UNICEF Bulgaria/2021

Sofia, 10 October 2021 – UNICEF Bulgaria launches a national campaign on the World Mental Health Day, 10 October to support the mental health of children and adolescents – Beyond smiles. How are you really?.

Many children and adolescents are struggling with anxiety, depression, sadness, and other negative emotions and the COVID-19 pandemic, social isolation and disruption of education have exacerbated the mental health crisis among adolescents.  In the same time, there is hardly open conversation on the topic, and young people feel embarrassment or shame to seek help when facing mental health challenges.

UNICEF campaign aims to raise awareness about the importance of mental health, to break the stigma around it and to propose a solution – creating an online self-care platform for mental wellbeing with coping strategies and building resilience techniques.

When we ignore the mental health of children, we undercut their capacity to learn, work, build meaningful relationships and contribute to the world. We should break the silence on mental health, promote understanding, take seriously the experiences of children and young people, and tackle stigma’

- said Christina de Bruin, UNICEF Representative in Bulgaria.  

A UNICEF Bulgaria survey in 2020 showed that in Bulgaria, during the COVID-19 pandemic, teenagers felt big levels of emotional distress. Loneliness increased four times, anger and annoyance increased three times, fear marked a twofold increase.

I feel completely lost in my own thoughts. I am not productive and I am very lonely’

- shares a teenager who participated in the survey.

The reason for not seeking professional help if the negative emotional experiences are strong is anxiety or shame (63%) or not knowing where to look for help (17%), show the results from a U-Report Bulgaria survey in 2020. To cope, most often young people try either not to pay attention to their experiences (41%) or do something harmful to their health (33%).

1 in 5 deaths among 15 to 19-year-olds in the EU is caused by intentional self-harm shows data from UNICEF’s Regional Office for Europe and Central Asia. Suicide is the second most prevalent cause of death for adolescents of the same age in Europe. At the same time 9 million adolescents aged 10–19 in Europe are living with a mental disorder, according to a new global report by UNICEF, The State of the World’s Children 2021. Data for Bulgaria show that 11% of girls and boys aged 10-19 are diagnosed with mental disorder. Globally, only about 2% of government budgets are spent on mental health, and the lost economic benefits of tackling young people's mental disorders globally amount to $ 390 billion each year, the London School of Economics estimates in UNICEF’s report.

Within the campaign, UNICEF Bulgaria will also fundraise for the building of an online platform to support the mental health of children and adolescents. It will include information by professionals on the most common mental health conditions like depression, anxiety, self-harm and suicidal behavior, eating disorders, bullying, etc., as well as ways to address them. Teenagers will find testimonials by their peers showcasing the importance of asking for help and demonstrating positive coping strategies through art, sports, music, volunteering, etc. Various self-help tools will also be included in the content of the platform, such as managing stress and stress relief advice; mindfulness, dealing with low moods and anxiety, navigating loneliness and forming healthy connections; breathing and relaxation techniques. Users could find contacts of existing support services to connect adolescents if self-help is not sufficient enough.


Celebrities and influencers will support the campaign – UNICEF’s national ambassadors Elena Petrova and Vladimir Ampov - Grafa, Sonya Yoncheva, Evelina Pavlova, Madlen Algafari, Alexandra Algafari, Andrea Banda Banda, Ivet Goranova, Ivet lalova, Geri Turijska, Boris Bandev and Hristina and Ivaylo from Aide BG.

Main media partner to the campaign is Nova Broadcasting Group and Netinfo and it is realized with the support of key state institutions, non-governmental organizations and youth networks. You can see a full list here.

Anyone can support the creation of the platform by donating to UNICEF to support adolescents to overcome depression and anxiety in the following ways:

  • Online at dari.unicef.bg
  • With monthly SMS donations of BGN 5 or BGN 10, sending SMS with text 5 or 2x5 to number 1021. VAT and fees are not charged to subscribers of all mobile operators.
  • By bank transfer to the donation account of UNICEF Bulgaria: IBAN BG34RZBB91551065034919.

Media contacts

Krasimira Antimova
Communication Officer
UNICEF Bulgaria
Tel: +359 882 344 553


UNICEF works in 190 countries and territories to save children’s lives. To defend their rights. To help them fulfil their potential. And we never give up. UNICEF, for every child.

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