Mental health of children are heightened risk; UNICEF

Pandemic To have More years of Mental Distraction in Children

At least one in seven children or 332 million across the world has lived at homes for at least nine months since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, putting their mental health and well-being at risk, the UNICEF warned.

In its latest analysis, the UNICEF came out with some enduring lock down conditions that hit the children badly.

UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore said that it has been a long year for everyone, especially children with lockdowns and movement restrictions. “When – day after day – you are away from your friends and distant loved ones, and perhaps even stuck at home with an abuser, the impact is significant. Many children are left feeling afraid, lonely, anxious, and concerned for their future. We must emerge from this pandemic with a better approach to child and adolescent mental health, and that starts by giving the issue the attention it deserves,” she tweeted.

The UNICEF said that the pandemic had serious impact on the children. A UNICEF U report   said that more than a quarter of the 8000 responses to a survey in Latin America and the Caribbean had experienced anxiety. Among them 15 per cent reported having depression.

A majority of the children and young people developed mental disorders even before the age of 15 even before the Covid pandemic. Seventy five per cent of these children developed disorders before they reached adulthood. Reports also note that majority of the 8,00,000 people who die by suicide every year are young people. It also said that self-harm was the third leading cause of death among 15–19-year-olds, with higher rates among adolescent girls.

At the time of pandemic, most of the children were left with abusers and without the support of teachers, communities and extended families. Children in vulnerable population groups – such as those living and working on the streets, children with disabilities, and children living in conflict settings – risk having their mental health needs overlooked entirely.

The WHO said that the pandemic disrupted or halted critical mental health services in 93 per cent of countries even as the demand for mental health support was increasing.

The UNICEF said that they supported countries and various organisations in mental health services. The organisation noted that they launched a platform for individual online counselling services for children in Kazakhstan. In China, they launched an online challenge to help reduce anxiety in children.

Fore said that Countries should invest in expanded mental health services and support for young people and their caregivers in communities and schools. She also called for parenting programmes to ensure that children from vulnerable families get the support and protection at home.

 

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