According to a new analysis by UNICEF, one out of every seven 15 to 24-year-olds in India is depressed or has little desire in doing activities, warning that the Covid pandemic might have a long-term impact on children and youth’s mental health and well-being.
UNICEF and Gallup performed a survey in early 2021 with 20,000 children and adults in 21 countries and discovered that the young in India are hesitant to seek help for mental stress.
According to the State of the World’s Children 2021 study, “just 41% of 15 to 24-year-olds in India said it is beneficial to obtain support for mental health problems, compared to an average of 83 percent for 21 nations.”
India must reawaken
Only India was one of the 21 countries where a minority of young people said that those suffering from mental illness should seek help from others. In every other country, the majority of young people (56 to 95 percent) believed that reaching out was the most effective method to deal with mental health difficulties.
The COVID-19 epidemic has had a substantial impact on children’s mental health, according to the paper, which looked at the mental health of children, adolescents, and caregivers in the twenty-first century.
In India, roughly 14% of 15 to 24-year-olds, or one in seven, reported feeling gloomy or having little interest in doing things, according to the survey.
The percentage ranged from over one-third in Cameroon, one-seventh in India and Bangladesh, to one-tenth in Ethiopia and Japan. According to the report, one in every five young people in 21 nations was affected.
Due to lockdown measures, children have had restricted access to social services during the pandemic, according to the report. Many young people are terrified, furious, and concerned about their future because of disruptions in their routines, education, and recreation, as well as concerns about family income and health.
Children who are confronting difficulties
“Children in India have had a difficult time coping with the hazards and limitations posed by the pandemic. Nothing could have prepared them for the pandemic’s second wave, which struck India earlier this year.
“They saw pain and uncertainty that no child should have to face. Isolation and anxiety resulted from being away from family, friends, classrooms, and play. Children have not only been through an emotional ordeal, but they are also at risk of being neglected or abused “Dr. Yasmin Ali Haque, UNICEF India Representative, stated.
Even before the COVID-19 disaster, the report stated, children and young people were burdened by mental health disorders that were not adequately addressed.
Globally, more than one in seven teenagers aged 10 to 19 is considered to have a documented mental condition, according to the most recent available estimates.
The number of teenagers with mental problems was highest in South Asia. According to the Indian Journal of Psychiatry, at least 50 million children in India are plagued by mental health difficulties, with 80 to 90% of them not seeking help.
There are still significant disparities between mental health needs and resources. According to the journal in 2017, India spent only 0.05 percent of its health expenditure on mental health.
While the impact on children’s lives is incalculable, according to WHO 2020, India’s economic loss owing to mental health disorders between 2012 and 2030 is predicted to be USD 1.03 trillion.
According to UNICEF
Genetics, experience, and environmental factors, such as parenting, schooling, quality of relationships, exposure to violence or abuse, prejudice, poverty, humanitarian crises, and health emergencies like COVID-19, all affect children’s mental health, according to the Unicef report.
While protective factors such as loving caregivers, safe school environments, and positive peer relationships can help reduce the risk of mental disorders, the report warns that barriers such as stigma and a lack of funding are keeping too many children from having a positive mental health experience.
The State of the World’s Children, 2021, urges governments and public and private sector partners to promote mental health for all children, adolescents, and caregivers, to safeguard those in need, and to care for the most vulnerable.
“In India, we must remove the stigma associated with discussing mental health and seeking help in order for children to have better life outcomes. We need to change the way we think about mental health “Dr. Yasmin Haque stated the following.
It is also necessary to ensure that children who are isolated and traumatised have a better understanding in order to maximise each child’s potential, according to the research.