The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in closure of school, social distancing, reducing peer interaction, and loneliness.
Governments across the globe have implemented nationwide lockdowns in response to the COVID-19 pandemic to protect citizens from the risk of infection. However, lockdown measures have impacted children’s mental health. According to the World Health Organization (WHO) survey, the COVID-19 pandemic has halted critical mental health services in 93% of the countries worldwide, while demand for these services keeps increasing. To add to this, those aged between 10 to 19 years constitute 16% of the world population, which means it has impacted the lives of children too in an unprecedented manner.
A new research reveals that this is one of the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic and can have long term adverse impacts on children and adolescents. The nature and extent of the impact on children depends on a variety of factors like developmental age, current educational status, child/parent quarantined due to infection or fear of infection, economic distress, and others.
The home confinement of children has disrupted physical activities, extra-curricular activities, and led to boredom, and more importantly heightened feeling of loneliness. Children have been devoid of socialization, opportunities to play, and other fun activities which can ultimately pave the way to depression. To add to this, classes are conducted online and children are readily getting access to internet, and in turn, have access to objectionable. Worst of all, some children have abusive homes as well. Moreover, social inequality in developing countries is also contributing to mental health challenges as there is a higher chance of children getting exposed to unfavorable circumstances. All these factors are negatively impacting their mental wellbeing.
As of now, the countries around the world are slowly returning to normalcy, and the children too are returning to school. Teachers and school counsellors have to play a major role in helping and supporting children if they are in low spirits. There is a need for mental health services both face-to-face as well as digitally, to prevent post-pandemic mental challenges.