Pandemic taking toll on children’s mental health

Children’s mental health

School closures, restricted access to sports and recreational activities have left several children anxious

Hyderabad: The coronavirus has managed to take childhood away from several children. And social isolation, school closures, and restricted access to sports and recreational activities have left them anxious. A 14-year-old, Class X student from a well-reputed school in the city is finding it very difficult to concentrate on anything. Complaining of not being able to meet his friends any longer, the student shares that sometimes he get anxious about the ongoing situation. “I feel like going to school — it’s my last year of schooling and I don’t like being stuck at home.”

While stress, fear and uncertainty created by the Covid-19 pandemic can wear anyone down, many children have had an especially tough time coping emotionally. Dr Anita Are, clinical psychologist, who was one of the doctors appointed by the Telangana government to help the Intermediate students facing stress, says she is trying to help several kids who have developed anxiety and stress over the last few months.

“Children are very stressed about this outbreak. Most of them are scared for their family and friends. They have been stuck at home for about a year now, and they are frustrated about that too. Some of the children whom I am in touch with have been complaining about the online classes and exams. As they are not meeting their peers, there is no fun, enjoyment or even competition anymore. The motivation level of students, in general, is very less,” she points out.

What is more worrying is the very young children, aged 5 to 10, are also in the grip of a mental health crisis. Sharing some insights, Dr Varun R Ghildiyal, MD (Psychiatry), says, “A very young child will reflect emotions around them. They may not understand the entire situation but they realise when the situation is negative and they react to that. When parents are scared, so are children. This is causing anxiety in the kids.”

Although sending them out is not an option, Seema Agarwal, counsellor and human behavior expert, shares that parents will have to give more time to the kids during the pandemic. “I have a teenage daughter, and I understand that she is missing her friends and school a lot now. Most kids are not happy being stuck at home. Thus parents will have to make an extra effort to engage the child. Spending time with them, understanding their concerns, playing as a family, sharing old memories and talking to relatives regularly can help a child feel protected and loved,” Seema adds.


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