New Delhi, June 28, 2022- While the Covid-19 pandemic was hard for all, children belonging to the most marginalised section in India were the worst affected as it led to their increased isolation, affecting their mental health significantly, according to a report on Tuesday.
The report by non-profit Save the Children-Bal Raksha Bharat showed an increase in feelings of loneliness, anxiety, anger, grief and substance and sexual abuse among children.
About 44 per cent of children reported that they could not share their sorrow/anger/stress-related feelings with anyone and three out of four children could not share serious concerns like domestic/spousal violence with anyone.
Isolation from the peer group had a major impact on the mental well-being of the children with increased cases of child labour and substance abuse as they struggle to cope with a lack of coping mechanisms to express their feelings and thoughts.
This situation was further aggravated with, as perceived by parents, children being out of school and lacking learning opportunities at home (61 per cent).
Most of the children (39 per cent) were worried about death, illness, separation of a loved one, or fear of disease.
Feelings of loneliness (59 per cent) and being worried about death, illness, separation, or disease (83 per cent) was maximum in Karnataka whereas being disturbed sleep patterns was majorly reported in Delhi (51 per cent) while physical fighting was maximum in Jharkhand (42 per cent).
A significant number of child also reported abuse, as they noted fear of being left alone with a given person (27 per cent), sudden emotional or behavioural change (27 per cent), abandonment of previous play habits (29 per cent), genital/anal injuries (15 per cent).
“Lockdown owing to Covid 19 not only led to reduced socialising amongst people but also increased the intensity of different emotions that parents and children feel. This brought a complex array of challenges that had mental health repercussions for children and adolescents,” said Anindit Roy Chowdhury, Chief Programme Officer, Save the Children, in a statement.
For the report, 4,052 respondents (2,743 adults and 1,309 adolescents) spread across 24 districts across six states namely, Madhya Pradesh, Jharkhand, Delhi, Karnataka, Maharashtra and Assam were surveyed between June 2020 to December 2021. (Agency)