COVID-19 has now spread across 217 countries, forcing millions of families into lockdown and causing untold damage.
This abrupt and drastic deviation from the norm has thrown the regular lives of the global community into disarray.
The long term effects of the pandemic are still unclear, but it has been tough on everyone and also taken a significant toll on children’s mental health.
With schools shutting down and learning moved to online platforms, along with strict social distancing guidelines, the mental well-being of children is now more at risk than ever before.
The way children spend their time, interact with their peers, and deal with their emotions has been severely affected due to these unprecedented circumstances. Sports and other group activities have been cancelled, depriving them of an easy way to release stress and be around their peers and friends.
According to a recent study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) which examined the effects on American youth:
- 24% more children aged 5-11 years and 31% more adolescents aged 12-17 years visited emergency departments for mental-health reasons from March through October, compared with the same period in 2019.
- 1 out of 60 pediatric visits to these hospitals from mid-March through mid-October was mental-health-related whereas the ratio was 1 out of 85 in 2019 for the same period.
- There was an average of 149,055 pediatric emergency room visits weekly during these months, and 2,481 were mental health-related. In comparison, there was an average of 262,714 visits weekly and 3,078 mental-health related visits in 2019 during the same period.
- The number of girls visiting the emergency room was higher than the number of boys.
- As only emergency room visits were reviewed, the CDC study grossly underestimates the overall mental health toll of the pandemic on children.
The study highlights the importance of continued monitoring of children’s mental health throughout the pandemic.
As the CDC study concluded:
“These findings demonstrate the continued need for mental health care for children during the pandemic and highlight the importance of expanding mental health services, such as telemental health and technology-based solutions.”
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