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MENTAL HEALTH OF CHILDREN DURING COVID-19

A child is known as a young person especially between infancy and puberty i.e. below the age of 18 unless national law defines a person to be an adult at an earlier age. Children have their own needs and requirements to thrive: security, stability, consistency, emotional support, love, education, positive role models and structure. In this stage their body passes through various steps of development-physical and mental growth, intellectual understanding and spiritual beliefs. A child’s health either physically or mentally is determined based on the family background. A child whose family is financially sound can have a good and variety of opportunity towards fulfilling his/her basic needs and requirements rather than a child who comes from a weak economic background.

         Almost every child goes to school, they learn, explore new things every day. Their mind is engaged in learning activities, socialization and got updated with various information and knowledge. Parents maintained a structured routine for them for their various daily activities. But looking towards the present scenario of COVID-19, the daily routines are not being maintained anymore such as time for sleeping, eating, personal hygiene, studying, leisure and exercises. Children are being restricted and limited in the various field of activities and by staying at home they would spend most of their time in watching the television and in social media sites. Having information or updates about COVID-19 is important but too much of it can cause harm towards the mental health of a child as it can lead towards anxiety and depression because of their anxiousness and fears especially misleading information. For those children who are not used to stay at home, isolated from the social life it can cause them to rage anger and they will not be in control.

         Children may often worry about their beloved family members and relatives since they are dependent on their family; a feeling of insecurity is inside them and the self esteem is low by thinking about the future especially for those children who came from the weaker sections whose parents are just daily wage workers. These children are very prone towards various physical and mental health problems already because of the pre-existing problems and all of these get added again in the current situation. Their basic necessities got disturbed and they may focus their thoughts on negative outcomes because of the risk that something will happen.  

             In cases where those innocent children who have lost their family members during the COVID-19, although they might not be experiencing the real loss but it makes them to miss the person from time to time, they undergo grief, they became upset and depressed moreover a fear will be inside them. They would refuse to do their daily activities which affect their mind and thoughts and became a burden towards the caregivers who are taking care of them.

          It is very much good that a child knows about how to prevent themselves against COVID-19 such as by washing their hands every now and then but attention should be paid that this practice will not lead towards changing their behaviour in the later. Although there is a need to give positive reinforcement to a child who does something nice so that he will keep acting that way. Since children are great imitators and got easily influence by what they hear and see therefore, parents and family members should be their positive role model to take an opportunity to let a child feel in control by  taking precautions to keep healthy, expressing love,  make them feel safe and secure. Children feel empowered when they know what to do to keep themselves safe. Teaching a child that staying healthy and having good hygiene habits can help them stay physically strong and fine is mandatory.

               A professional counsellor can contribute to the mental health of the population by providing psycho-social and emotional support, health related education and activities, behavioural therapies, rehabilitation and follow-up calls.

                A psychiatrist social worker can perform various roles such as an educator, guide, helper, resource mobilize towards a positive mental health of the children during COVID-19.

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