IMPACT OF COVID-19
IMPACT OF COVID-19 ON THE MENTAL HEALTH OF CHILDREN . It has been more than a year , that the world has been reeling under the threat of the Pandemic Covid-19. Several governments of nations worldwide have been imposing unprecedented lockdown of cities and countries . Preventing the further spread of the disease. In this backdrop, one of the principal measures taken has been the closure of schools, educational institutes and activity areas. Our country is no exception which is now trying hard to recuperate from the second wave of this fatal disease.
Though the importance of social distancing and lockdown in curbing the spread of the disease cannot be stressed enough. Yet these measures have caused huge repercussions on not only the socio-economic scenario of countries worldwide, but also on the mental health of people of all ages. The pandemic, coupled with the lockdown has brought about a sense of fear and anxiety around the globe. This phenomenon has led to short term as well as long term psychological health implications for children and adolescents. Compared to aduls, this pandemic may continue to have increased long-term adverse consequences on children and adolescents . They constitute approximately 28% of the world population.
THE PROBLEM : UNDER THE SCANNER
Covid-19 and subsequent lockdown have ushered in a complex array of factors . Which are uncertainty, social isolation and parental angst that have a huge impact on the mental health of children and adolescents. The circumstances created by the disease, which are beyond normal experience are leading to stress, anxiety and feeling of helplessness. Predictability is a stabilising force for children and adolescents, but it has been largely disrupted since the Covid-19 outbreak. The nature and extent of impact on this age group depend on many vulnerability factors . Such as the developmental age, current education status, having special needs, pre-existing mental health condition, economic condition of the family and child/parent being quarantined due to infection or fear of infection. Children and adolescents have experienced a drastic routine disruption . Due to the closure of schools and absence of outdoor activities negatively impacted over 91% of world’s student population.
IMPACT OF COVID-19 ON THE MENTAL HEALTH OF CHILDREN . This can be attributed to disruption in their education, physical activities and opportunities for socialisation. Absence of structured setting of the school for a long duration is resulting in disruption in routine . Moreover acute boredom and lack of innovative ideas for engaging in various academic and extra curricular activities. Students who have been preparing for their board exams or competitive exams are now facing a terrible uncertainty. Uncertainity regarding their future owing to the cancellation or indefinite postponement of the same. Moreover, due to ongoing pandemic, most parents have to reorganise their lives to deal with working at home . In addition to managing the children. This sudden overload has been putting parents under extra stressful conditions. This is potentially increasing the risk of children facing emotional and behavioural problems.
THE MEASURES :
IMPACT OF COVID-19 ON THE MENTAL HEALTH OF CHILDREN .Certain measures taken to cater to the mental health needs of children during the Pandemic. Parents should interact constructively with the children about current pandemic, albeit according to their maturity level. The activities of adolescents and children should include more structure in home-schooling activities, indoor play and creative activities. In addition, adolescents are advised to be involved in household chores and understand their social responsibilities. Children should be encouraged to socialize with their friends through digital platforms, under adult supervision. Children with special needs and neurodevelopmental disorders should be managed differently. It is also important to plan strategies to enhance children and adolescents’ access to mental health services.
On staying connected
“During the COVID pandemic, it is critical that students stay connected with their peers, family members, and other key individuals in their lives. This is especially true for children and adolescents who are primarily learning online. It can also be a fun reward after a long day, even if it is in the form of online gaming. Virtual tools can be a helpful outlet for children and adolescents to connect with one another.”
On warning signs
“Adults should monitor students’ mental health needs and provide supports if they notice concerning behaviors. Warning signs can include:
- being more withdrawn than usual;
- eating or sleeping too much or too little;
- having a low or irritable mood most days; or
- having no interest in activities they typically enjoy.
If these warning signs come up, adults can help connect their child with a school counselor, mental health counselor, or a trusted adult in their family or community who would be a helpful support. Parents and teachers also need to remember to take care of their own mental health needs. If they are struggling with staying balanced, it will be very difficult to help students.”
On times of transition
“It is also important to note that transitions are tough! As things shift and change with COVID, adults need to be patient and try their best to meet children and adolescents where they are at. For example, children who struggle with social anxiety will likely experience extreme discomfort when heading back to in-person school, leading to avoidance or emotional outbursts. For children who are very social, not engaging with friends in person on a daily basis can lead to irritability. Adults can help children through these times by showing empathy and helping their child express their feelings. They can also brainstorm with their child to find ways to ease this transition.”