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From a world without a mask to a fully covered one, from playgrounds to house arrest, the world has seen an unimaginable shift in the mental state of people across ages. Mental health in children has been impacted in many ways.
The new regular changes have impacted children the most in terms of settling with online education mode, and being locked up in between four walls. This has given rise to issues such as stress, fear, anxiety, depression, adjustment issues, apprehensions towards the future, surfacing of the previous and past undiagnosed and untreated mental health disorders, fear, phobia, and obsessions of contamination, fear of physical interactions, fear of uncertainty leading to helplessness.
In addition, the pandemic has also served as a trigger for the predisposed mental health ailments in children that can take longer to heal, if not addressed.
With time, adequate and timely intervention, children will show slow yet steady improvement with these challenges. Providing a healthy environment at home, where parents play a significant role in addressing the precise fear and anxieties, giving importance to listening and showing empathy, being non-judgemental and accepting the child with the issue will help alleviate the problem to a certain extent.
Well-being is a balance between physical and emotional health. To achieve the balance, parents and teachers must focus on balanced growth and development. This can be promoted through physical activities, mental abilities and most importantly, emotional support when the child needs it. In the present scenario, where children find themselves more involved in gadgets over going out and spending their energy in play, parents and teachers can sensitise children about the negative impact of screen time on the brain, due to which the child can face repercussions.
Addressing these issues begins with the parents. They need to lead by example and be conscious of their behaviour vis-à-vis their ward.
Timely help and proper intervention can contribute to a healthy mental and physical upbringing by parents and teachers alike.
Schools can provide supportive platforms for children to share and talk about their feelings and fears to mental health professionals. They can render massive help by emphasising the importance of speaking out when disturbed or confused. This will help prevent and manage a lot of mental health issues that children could be facing.
Teaching a child life skills like anger management, handling stress, managing time, and decision-making at home through simple daily home-based activities can go a long way in coping with the child.
The child learns to manage and regulate emotions early in life, which reduces the long-term risk to a large extent in the long term prevention of permanent damage. Let’s not wait for the issue to be out of control.
Rather, follow the principle – “Prevention is better than cure”, thus help a child from the harrowing experience of mental distress.