• Tuesday, May 24, 2022
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UNICEF: 14% Bangladeshi kids depressed in pandemic, 19% globally

  • Published at 02:42 pm October 5th, 2021
In an international survey conducted by UNICEF and Gallup, 14 per cent of young people aged 15–24 from Bangladesh said they often feel depressed or have little interest in doing things
In an international survey conducted by UNICEF and Gallup, 14 per cent of young people aged 15–24 from Bangladesh said they often feel depressed or have little interest in doing thingsHandout/UNICEF

More 142 million children thought to have slipped into poverty in 2020 globally

Fourteen percent of young people aged 15–24 Bangladesh often feel depressed or have little interest in doing things, according to an international survey conducted by Unicef and Gallup. 

The survey of children and adults from 21 countries, was part of the United Nations Children's Fund (Unicef). The State of the World’s Children 2021; On My Mind: promoting, protecting and caring for children’s mental health. 

The flagship report of Unicef has found a median of 19% of young people aged 15–24 often feel depressed or have little interest in doing things.

On the other hand, a new analysis by the London School of Economics included in Unicef’s report estimates a loss of nearly $390 billion a year for economies due to mental disorders that can result in disability or death among young people.

According to a media statement, more than one in seven adolescents aged 10–19  is estimated to live with a diagnosed mental disorder globally.

Almost 46,000 adolescents take their lives each year, among the top five causes of death for their age group. Meanwhile, wide gaps persist between mental health needs and mental health funding.

The report finds that about 2% of government health budgets are allocated to mental health spending globally.

Lockdowns and pandemic-related movement restrictions, children have been missing out on key elements of childhood, said Unicef's executive director Henrietta Fore.

“The impact is significant, and it is just the tip of the iceberg. Even before the pandemic, far too many children were burdened under the weight of unaddressed mental health issues. Too little investment is being made by governments to address these critical needs. Not enough importance is being placed on the relationship between mental health and future life outcomes,” the statement quoted Fore.

Sheldon Yett, Unicef representative in Bangladesh, has applauded the development in mental health management and urged that mental health needs be consistently addressed through the primary health care system. "Every child and young person has the right to mental healthcare," he added.

The statement said, according to the latest available data from Unicef, globally, at least one in seven children has been directly affected by lockdowns, while more than 1.6 billion children have suffered some loss of education. 

The disruption to routines, education, recreation, as well as concern for family income and health, is leaving many young people feeling afraid, angry, and concerned for their future. 

The statement by Unicef says, ADHD, anxiety, autism, bipolar disorder, conduct disorder, depression, eating disorders, intellectual disability, and schizophrenia, and all these diagnosed mental disorders can significantly harm children and young people’s health, education, life outcomes, and earning capacity.

The State of the Mind 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 of these shape and effect children’s mental health throughout their lifetime.

According to Unicef the cure is 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 significant barriers, including stigma and lack of funding, are preventing too many children from experiencing positive mental health or accessing the support they need.

The State of the World’s Children 2021 calls on governments, and public and private sector partners, to commit, communicate and act to promote mental health for all children, adolescents and caregivers, protect those in need of help, and care for the most vulnerable. 

“Mental health is a part of physical health - we cannot afford to continue to view it as otherwise,” said Fore. “For far too long, in rich and poor countries alike, we have seen too little understanding and too little investment in a critical element of maximizing every child’s potential. This needs to change.”

Remote learning was beyond the reach of hundreds of millions of young people. One in three schoolchildren couldn't take part because they had no internet access or television, Unicef said. Children in the poorest families were most affected.

Even when they haven't been forced to drop out of school and work to help make ends meet, children also are being hit by the pandemic's destructive repercussions for jobs and economies. Unicef said the crisis has triggered "a sharp uptick" in numbers of children in poverty, with an additional 142 million children thought to have slipped into poverty last year, according to media reports.

Financial hardship and school closures could also put more girls at risk of being forced into early marriage as child brides, Unicef warned.

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