Covid-19 Impact On Children 

No official study has been conducted to assess the impact of Covid-19 lockdown on the mental development and health of children, the government said. However, beyond doubt Covid-19 intensified challenges on numerous counts, more so mental health front. The pandemic and lockdown has brought about a sense of fear and anxiety around the globe and has led to short term as well as long term psychosocial and mental health implications for children and adolescents. The quality and magnitude of impact on minors is determined by many vulnerability factors like developmental age, educational status, pre-existing mental health condition, being economically underprivileged or being quarantined due to infection or fear of infection. Newer forms were found during the course of the pandemic. Raising a firewall against threats to physical health has had adverse consequences for mental health.

Mental illness in Jammu and Kashmir is yet to be recognized as a significant contributor to poor health. This is not only reflected in the skewed ratio between patients and mental health professionals but also in the appalling treatment meted out to patients in spite of the concerns expressed by the courts, medical professionals, and the media.  On a large front, there is need for incorporating provisions for recognizing newer forms of anxiety in the Mental Healthcare laws and fostering public engagement with matters of the mind.

To address the burden of mental disorders, the Government of India says that National Mental Health Programme (NMHP) is being implemented since 1982. The Government needs to continue supporting implementation of the District Mental Health Programme (DMHP) under NMHP in all districts of the country. To generate awareness among masses about mental illnesses, Information, Education and Communication (IEC) activities need to be made an integral part of the NMHP in real sense. There is need to provide class teachers with facilitative skill to promote life skill among their students, provide the class teachers with knowledge and skills to identify emotional conduct, scholastic and substance use problems in their students and provide them with a system of referral for students with psychological problems to the District Mental Health Team for inputs and treatment. There is also need to work zealously to involve other stakeholders like parents, community leaders to enhance development of adolescents.

There is also a pressing need for planning longitudinal and developmental studies, and implementing evidence based elaborative plan of action to cater to the psycho social and mental health needs of the vulnerable children and adolescents.

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