Coronavirus has indeed left a deep impact on people’s lives all over the world. It has destroyed lives, livelihoods and mental health. But apparently, this is not just it. A study carried out recently revealed another terrifying effect of the pandemic on children around the world.
Boston Children’s Hospital’s researchers have calculated that around a million children have been orphaned (here, losing at least one parent) because of the pandemic. This study was published in The Lancet on Tuesday.
Pandemic Has Orphaned Millions Of Children; Their Mental Health Is Worsening
The writers of this study say that more than 1.13 million children have lost at least one parent or a custodial grandparent. 1.56 million children have seen the death of their one parent in this pandemic. The nations with the majority of children that were orphaned include India, South Africa, Peru, Brazil, Mexico and the US. This study shows deaths caused by the pandemic in an indirect manner too, like lockdowns, depression, etc.
Children who have seen loss at such a young age are most likely to get into drug use, mental health problems, behavioural issues and so on in their adolescence or young adulthood. This worsens when young children are placed in institutions or foster care, where they are likely to feel abandoned and alone.
Chuck Nelson, a paediatrics professor at Harvard Medical School as well as Boston Children’s Hospital expressed his concern saying that the loss of a parent or a caregiver can disrupt a child’s life and affect their further development if a stable home setting is not provided to them.
Many other factors have also negatively impacted children. It is proved that stress levels have risen with almost a 40% strike rate in adults. Gallup’s 2021 Global Emotions Index states that this rate is the highest in the last 15 years. The reasons can vary from sickness, death of loved ones, experiencing negative emotions, restrictions, isolation, losing a job and much more. Dealing with angry adults and especially for the children who are not privileged enough to have a positive parental relationship is no easy job. In the course of a year, 70% to 75% of people have lost their smiles.
Apart from this, children are suffering academically, socially and emotionally. For a full year, children are stuck at home. This has proven difficult for the ones who found it difficult to tolerate their families and home. Academically, they are being pushed further down. Many children have missed the whole year, some dropped out, and most have no idea about what to do next. Children who have fallen back in their curriculums at this young age are bound to experience issues settling their careers. This may spike depression and suicide rates among them in future.
Studies show that all around the world, women and children have been worst hit with feelings of boredom, frustration and sadness. The stress digits have doubled in half of the 116 countries, people earned less money and around 32% of them lost their jobs.
Amidst all this, mental health problems in children are worsening. They are in dire need of at least one adult they can turn to in tough times. It has become essential to talk to children about their issues, help them out and provide them support. Giving them a supportive environment where they can blossom into their better selves, and where they are not fearing any judgement can help. Having a proper sleep schedule, a healthy diet and having prolonged conversations can help.
Children haven’t seen the world, the troubles, the survival race of life. Their minds are fresh and innocent. It is very unfortunate for us to have our children see such horrors at this age. It becomes essential to help with whatever we can on our end to ensure that the future of our world that is carried by them is safe and healthy.
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