New Delhi | Jagran News Desk: As the COVID pandemic rages through our lives, a report by the UNICEF on mental health stated that one out of seven, among the 15 to 24-year-olds in India, often feel depressed or have little interest in doing things and warned that Covid pandemic can impact the mental health and well-being of children and youth for years.

"Only 41 per cent of 15 to 24-year-olds in India said it is good to get support for mental health problems, compared to an average of 83 per cent for 21 countries," the State of the World's Children 2021 report stated.

India was the only one of 21 countries where a minority of young people felt that people experiencing mental health issues should reach out to others. In every other country, a majority of the young people (ranging from 56 to 95 per cent) felt that reaching out was the best way to deal with mental health issues.

According to the report, in which Unicef took a look at the mental health of children, adolescents and caregivers in the 21st century, the COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on children's mental health. The survey also found that around 14 per cent of 15 to 24-year-olds in India, or around one in seven, reported often feeling depressed or having little interest in doing things.

The proportion ranged from almost one in three in Cameroon, one in seven in India and Bangladesh, to as low as one in 10 in Ethiopia and Japan. Across 21 countries, the median was one in five young people, the report said.

It noted that through the pandemic, children have had limited access to support from social services due to lockdown measures. Disruption to routines, education, recreation, as well as concern for family income and health, is leaving many young people afraid, angry and concerned for their future.

The report noted that even before the COVID-19 crisis, children and young people carried the burden of mental health conditions without significant investment in addressing them. According to the latest available estimates, more than one in seven adolescents aged 10–19 is estimated to live with a diagnosed mental disorder globally. Of these, South Asia had the highest number of adolescents with mental disorders.

The Indian Journal of Psychiatry in 2019 stated that at least 50 million children in India were affected by mental health issues with 80 to 90 per cent not having sought support. Wide gaps persist between mental health needs and mental health funding. India has spent only 0.05 per cent of its health budget on mental health, according to the journal in 2017.

While the impact on children's lives is incalculable, the economic loss due to mental health conditions between 2012-2030 is estimated to be USD 1.03 trillion in India, according to WHO 2020.

The Unicef report notes that genetics, experience and environmental factors from the earliest days, including parenting, schooling, quality of relationships, exposure to violence or abuse, discrimination, poverty, humanitarian crises, and health emergencies such as COVID-19, all shape children's mental health.

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, including stigma and lack of funding, are preventing too many children from experiencing positive mental health.

In line with the concerns over the mental health of children in the country, the latest episode of Jagran Dialogues highlighted the need and importance of creating awareness regarding it. Jagran New Media's Executive Editor, Pratyush Ranjan had a detailed discussion regarding the mental health of children issue with Rajya Sabha member and Padma Shri awardee eye specialist Dr Vikas Mahatme and UNICEF Head (Child Protection) Soledad Herrero. Watch the video here:

(With PTI Inputs)

Posted By: Talibuddin Khan