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Impact Of COVID-19 On The Mental Health Of Children And How Parents Can Help Them

More children are showing signs of depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the restrictions, say experts

Impact Of COVID-19 On The Mental Health Of Children And How Parents Can Help Them
Highlights
  • Some kids are facing stranger anxiety: Dr Samir Sheikh, Wockhardt Hospital
  • Experts recommend assessing change in child’s behaviour
  • Children need to be reassured that their feelings are valid: Expert

New Delhi: The doctors and hospitals are reporting a rise in mental health issues like anxiety, stress, behavioural issues like mood swings, and hyperactivity, among children due to the pandemic. Children they say are isolated at home and are craving for normalcy. Dr Fazal Nabi, Director of Pediatrics, Jaslok Hospital informed that earlier they used to barely get one to two cases of children with mental issues in three months. However, now, around two children are coming to the OPD every week. Adding to this, Dr Anupam Borade, Psychiatrist said that more children are showing signs of depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Also Read: How To Ensure Mental Wellbeing Of Children During The COVID-19 Crisis

Due to the pandemic and the lockdown, there is a lack of physical activity, physical meeting of friends, and social cohesion which according to the experts has affected children’s physical and mental well-being.

Kids from different age groups are coming with different health issues. Very young kids have not stepped outside. Some kids are facing stranger anxiety that is they are getting anxious on seeing strangers. Children are unable to meet anyone other than their parents. Older kids who used to go to schools are adapting to indoor lifestyle but lack of physical activity is causing constipation and obesity. Other older kids are worried about their career, said Dr Samir Sheikh, Consultant Neonatology, Wockhardt Hospital.

Also Read: Encourage Kids To Communicate During COVID To Minimise Negative Impact, Suggests AIIMS Doctor

Elaborating more on the same, Dr P.S. Narang, Associate Director, Department of Pediatrics, Max Healthcare, said,

Health is the well-being of physical, mental and social. If we talk about physical health, children are lacking exercise. When it comes to social, children are not going out. The third thing is mental health; parents get up in the morning and ask their child to study, exercise, this or that. Kids are hearing this all the time. We have to channelise their energy in a proper manner and listen to what they feel from inside. Parents need to identify the mood swings of their children and keep them engaged with not only studies, but other activities need to be addressed simultaneously.

Also Read: India Should Invest In Mental Health Awareness, It Is The Need Of The Hour: Expert

Manisha Massey, counselling psychologist and mental health expert also stressed on the role of parents in helping their children deal with pandemic-induced mental health crises. She believes, children end up replicating the language that they hear at home. The more fear that they observe in the families, it reflects more in their behaviour. She added,

Fear is normal. We also need to normalise the fact that what’s happening all around us is causing fear. What do we do about that? How do we manage that? So, parents need to have an open conversation with their children about reassuring them that first of all, their feelings are valid. How do we deal with these feelings is something that we are going to look into. How do we regulate these emotions? So, with younger children and older children, various stakeholders, who are at this moment in their lives – which includes their teachers, educators as well as their parents and elders – need to come together and have this similar language of acceptance and reassurance that this is exactly what’s going on. This is how we deal with it and your feelings are valid.

Also Read: Expert Blog: COVID-19 Times And Mental Health Of Young Humans: The Role Of Adults

Talking about addressing career concerns of older children, Ms Massey recommended teachers come together and talk to children about it. She also suggested having mental health experts at a school level to deal with children and creating safe spaces for the children.

The COVID-19, especially the second wave of the pandemic, resulted in a lot of deaths. Many kids have seen death in the family. Explaining how parents can help children process grief, Dr Narang said,

A lot of children actually don’t speak. They just go quiet. Especially younger children are very much attached to their grandparents and losing any grandparent or parent is causing huge anxiety in them. So much so that if anybody in the family falls ill, they just presume that he/she is going to die. To help children navigate through this, talk to them and explain the age factor and other things. Obviously, they need to know why he/she has died, so never try to say they have gone somewhere and will come back. Sometimes you tell very young children that their loved one has gone to the god and become a star and now you can talk to them through whatever you are doing.

Also Read: COVID-19 Is Causing Disruption To Critical Mental Health Services: World Health Organisation

Sharing an example, Dr Narang said that if a child has lost his/her grandmother, tell the kid that your grandmother was very nice. She used to like you when you used to dress up well, study properly so if you will study well, remain a good boy/girl, your grandmother will be happy. They can still see and feel you, said Dr Naranag and added, “Time is the best healer”.

What happens when everything indeed starts to become normal? Will there be a concern of children not being able to mix up with others? Answering the same, Ms Massey said,

If this is something we are pre-empting, we need to find measures in order for them to be brought back into whatever the normal will look like after the dust settles. So, again, stakeholders need to talk to them. Right now, while the children are still grieving, this is a very important process for them to be able to understand how the grieving process works; process it well, heal and then be able to come back into society whatever that is going to look like. Know that it’s going to be difficult for them. It’s going to be anxiety-inducing, but they have a support system that they can fall back on.

Also Read: Covid Vaccines For Children: Experts Speak On The Options Available For India

While signing off, Dr Narang suggested parents address a child’s anxiety and never say that it’s going to be normal on its own. A lot of parents ask, ‘what anxiety do children have?’ They are not earning members. For a child, as small, if you take his sweet from him, even that’s an anxiety for him, said Dr Narang and added,

Talk to your children in a very cohesive manner so much so that they should never hide their fear or anxiety. Children are like normal human beings; they are the best psychologist, you give them the hug, love, talk to them, they actually will listen to you more carefully and patiently.

Also Read: Effects Of Future Waves Of COVID-19 On Children Are Speculations: Doctor

NDTV – Dettol Banega Swasth India campaign is an extension of the five-year-old Banega Swachh India initiative helmed by Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan. It aims to spread awareness about critical health issues facing the country. In wake of the current COVID-19 pandemic, the need for WASH (WaterSanitation and Hygiene) is reaffirmed as handwashing is one of the ways to prevent Coronavirus infection and other diseases. The campaign highlights the importance of nutrition and healthcare for women and children to prevent maternal and child mortality, fight malnutrition, stunting, wasting, anaemia and disease prevention through vaccines. Importance of programmes like Public Distribution System (PDS), Mid-day Meal Scheme, POSHAN Abhiyan and the role of Aganwadis and ASHA workers are also covered. Only a Swachh or clean India where toilets are used and open defecation free (ODF) status achieved as part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014, can eradicate diseases like diahorrea and become a Swasth or healthy India. The campaign will continue to cover issues like air pollutionwaste managementplastic banmanual scavenging and sanitation workers and menstrual hygiene

World

22,95,44,435Cases
19,20,52,504Active
3,27,83,741Recovered
47,08,190Deaths
Coronavirus has spread to 195 countries. The total confirmed cases worldwide are 22,95,44,435 and 47,08,190 have died; 19,20,52,504 are active cases and 3,27,83,741 have recovered as on September 22, 2021 at 3:49 am.

India

3,35,31,498 26,964Cases
3,01,9897,586Active
3,27,83,741 34,167Recovered
4,45,768 383Deaths
In India, there are 3,35,31,498 confirmed cases including 4,45,768 deaths. The number of active cases is 3,01,989 and 3,27,83,741 have recovered as on September 22, 2021 at 2:30 am.

State Details

State Cases Active Recovered Deaths
Maharashtra

65,27,629 3,131

44,269 960

63,44,744 4,021

1,38,616 70

Kerala

45,39,926 15,768

1,61,765 5,813

43,54,264 21,367

23,897 214

Karnataka

29,69,361 818

13,769 617

29,17,944 1,414

37,648 21

Tamil Nadu

26,48,688 1,647

16,993 9

25,96,316 1,619

35,379 19

Andhra Pradesh

20,40,708 1,179

13,905 483

20,12,714 1,651

14,089 11

Uttar Pradesh

17,09,693 13

194 0

16,86,612 13

22,887

West Bengal

15,62,710 537

7,741 69

15,36,291 592

18,678 14

Delhi

14,38,556 39

400 21

14,13,071 18

25,085

Odisha

10,21,216 462

4,844 103

10,08,226 560

8,146 5

Chhattisgarh

10,05,120 26

297 0

9,91,260 26

13,563

Rajasthan

9,54,275 12

99 8

9,45,222 4

8,954

Gujarat

8,25,751 14

133 0

8,15,536 14

10,082

Madhya Pradesh

7,92,410 8

90 6

7,81,803 14

10,517

Haryana

7,70,754 8

328 12

7,60,618 20

9,808

Bihar

7,25,907 6

60 9

7,16,188 15

9,659

Telangana

6,63,906 244

4,938 53

6,55,061 296

3,907 1

Punjab

6,01,359 36

304 3

5,84,554 37

16,501 2

Assam

5,98,864 441

5,081 97

5,87,970 338

5,813 6

Jharkhand

3,48,139 14

65 10

3,42,941 4

5,133

Uttarakhand

3,43,405 12

249 18

3,35,765 29

7,391 1

Jammu And Kashmir

3,28,214 145

1,450 11

3,22,345 154

4,419 2

Himachal Pradesh

2,17,403 263

1,715 99

2,12,033 162

3,655 2

Goa

1,75,690 107

886 76

1,71,507 29

3,297 2

Puducherry

1,25,618 101

922 55

1,22,864 46

1,832

Manipur

1,18,870 197

2,174 9

1,14,861 203

1,835 3

Tripura

83,956 51

353 7

82,794 44

809

Mizoram

82,815 1,355

15,363 223

67,184 1,127

268 5

Meghalaya

79,817 150

1,878 18

76,558 167

1,381 1

Chandigarh

65,195 7

44 3

64,333 4

818

Arunachal Pradesh

54,190 64

413 3

53,504 60

273 1

Sikkim

31,014 43

627 27

30,007 70

380

Nagaland

30,959 52

470 3

29,832 46

657 3

Ladakh

20,743 6

144 6

20,392

207

Dadra And Nagar Haveli

10,670

0 0

10,666

4

Lakshadweep

10,360 1

9 1

10,300

51

Andaman And Nicobar Islands

7,607 7

17 4

7,461 3

129

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