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“I can’t sleep at night”: Adolescent refugees and their mental health | PODCAST | Episode # 4

PODCAST | Adolescents in crisis: unheard voices is a five-part podcast series that shines a light on the millions of adolescents around the world who are forced to flee their homes. They form part of a global community of some 70 million refugees, displaced because of persecution, climate crises and conflict. Nearly half of those are under 18.

The podcast series gives voice to adolescents – their lives, their stories, their aspirations and their hopes for the future. It draws on the nine-year research programme Gender and Adolescence: Global Evidence (GAGE) and their recent publication ‘Adolescents in Humanitarian Crisis: Displacement, Gender and Social Inequalities’

“I can’t sleep at night”: Adolescent refugees and their mental health | PODCAST | Episode # 4

Adolescent mental health has become a major casualty of conflict, persecution, and climate crisis. Adolescents who have had to leave everything they know behind to flee to safety are often forced to take on the pressures and responsibilities of adulthood, before their time.

In episode #4 of GAGE’s podcast series, Adolescents in Crisis: Unheard Voices, we hear from 18-year-old Syrian refugee Kareem who started going to school in Lebanon, but dropped out because his family needed him to earn a wage for them to survive. He says: “The main reason that made my family leave Syria and come to Lebanon was the war that made no differentiation between civilians and militants. Everyone could be killed and there was no security. (In Lebanon) I feel that I am not productive. I can’t express my skills my dreams. I have no expectation in life.”

We hear from 21-year-old Rami, a Syrian adolescent living in Lebanon who lives with 12 members of his family in a two-room apartment. Rami dropped out of school at 13 to be the main breadwinner for the family because his father had cancer. “It was very psychologically distressing to leave school and start to work. Normal people have the chance to live their lives without having to do these hard jobs before reaching the age of 18”, he says.

The economic crisis in Lebanon has hit the country’s nearly 7 million people hard. A recent UN report says poverty has drastically increased, with 82 % of people in Lebanon now living without a proper means of support. Episode #4 focuses on adolescent refugees and their mental health, drawing on GAGE research with hundreds of adolescents as it follows their life path over nine years. We hear from those working with adolescents in the Lebanon and Ethiopia who believe that hearing from the young people themselves is key to finding solutions to the growing mental health crisis.

Future episodes will be released every other Monday. Subscribe to ODI podcasts through your preferred podcast app to get notified. You can also listen to all episodes as they are released on ODI’s SoundCloud channel.

This episode’s guests:

1. Assem Chrief, The Lebanese Organisation of Studies and Training (LOST)
2. Marcel Saleh, GAGE researcher, Lebanon
3. Kiya Gezahegne, GAGE researcher, Ethiopia
4. Kareem (pseudonym) – 18-year-old Syrian boy living in Lebanon who cannot sleep at night. Frustrated because he is working in a hard labour construction environment, and he wants to continue his education.
5. Rami (pseudonym) – 21-year-old Syrian youth boy living in Lebanon. Works as a painter/decorator. Feeling hopeless.

*The names are pseudonyms to protect individual adolescent identities