1 in 7 children suffer from mental health globally, COVID-19 has exaggerated the situation: UNICEF India Representative

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Dr Yasmin Ali Haque, Representative of UNICEF India (Photo/ANI)
Dr Yasmin Ali Haque, Representative of UNICEF India (Photo/ANI)

By Shalini Bhardwaj

New Delhi [India], October 5 (ANI): One in seven children have mental health issues and the COVID-19 pandemic has exaggerated the situation, said Representative of UNICEF India Dr Yasmin Ali Haque on Tuesday.

The Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya today released the UNICEF's State of the World's Children Report. The report takes a comprehensive look at the mental health of children, adolescents and caregivers in the 21st century. As highlighted in the report, the COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on children's mental health.

Speaking exclusively to ANI at the event, Dr Haque said, "Reports say that globally one in seven children have mental health issues and COVID-19 has exaggerated that. We have seen that despite having issues, children are not comfortable talking about it."

She further stressed that everyone must be encouraged to talk about mental health and remove the stigma from society.

"We need to encourage children, adults and young people to share their anxiety, depression and bad thoughts so that we can help them. Addressing this stigma is a huge issue," she noted.

The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) is observing Mental Health Awareness Campaign Week beginning from today and culminating on World Mental Health Day, which is globally observed on October 10 to raise awareness on mental health issues and mobilise efforts to support mental health.

This year's World Mental Health Day comes at a time when daily lives have been transformed to a significant extent because of COVID-19. This in turn has given rise to various mental health concerns among people.

The Mental Health Awareness Campaign Week, which commenced today, is being observed with an aim to encourage people's participation to break the stigma surrounding Mental Disorders.

Speaking on the occasion, Union Health Minister said, "Health of the body and mind are inseparable in Indian traditions of medicine which emphasise holistic health. It is vital to address mental health issues for creating a healthy society."

He also appreciated the efforts of the Prime Minister on 'Pariksha Pe Charcha' and said, "Prime Minister invested personal effort to relieve students of their exam stress."

Mandaviya also recounted his personal experience as the Pharmaceuticals Minister during the second surge of COVID-19.

"I started doing deep breathing exercising and cycling daily to overcome the stress," he said.

On how to pinpoint the mental health of your child, Dr Haque said, "It is important to see that they are happy, playing, interacting and enjoying their routine. But if you see that your child isn't behaving as usual, not lively, and is sitting quietly then these are signals to pick up."

Divulging details about the report, she said, "This report is based on a phone-call survey that was done in 21 countries, that reached about 21,000 children and adults. It is also based on all the available data and viewpoints of specialists who deal with young people and children's mental health issues. We hear very strongly the voice of children on this and hardships they have faced."

As per the ministry, the other activities under the aegis of the Mental Health Awareness Campaign Week include virtual awareness workshops by NIMHANS, Bengaluru in collaboration with Educational Institutions and other suitable organisations, cycle rallies in different parts of Delhi, green ribbon campaign, short film release in regional languages, the launch of #breakthestigma hashtag campaign and quiz/slogan competitions on mental health. (ANI)

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