By; MATTHEW UKACHUNWA, Lagos
United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has released figures showing the impact of Novel Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) on poor mental health in children and young people, describing it as ‘tip of the iceberg’.
The international authority on children’s well-being said that one in six young Nigerians aged 15-24 years often feel depressed or have little interest in doing things
“Children and young people could feel the impact of COVID-19 on their mental health and well-being for many years to come,” UNICEF warned in its flagship report on Tuesday.
It pointed out that according to The State of the World’s Children 2021 titled “On My Mind: promoting, protecting and caring for children’s mental health” – UNICEF’s most comprehensive look at the mental health of children, adolescents and caregivers in the 21st century – even before COVID-19, children and young people carried the burden of mental health conditions without significant investment in addressing them.
UNICEF said that according to the latest available estimates, more than 1 in 7 adolescents aged 10–19 is estimated to live with a diagnosed mental health problem globally.
Almost 46,000 adolescents die from suicide each year, among the top five causes of death for their age group, the UN agancy said, adding: Meanwhile, wide gaps persist between mental health needs and mental health funding. The report finds that about 2 per cent of government health budgets are allocated to mental health spending globally.
“It has been a long 18 months for us all– especially children. With the nationwide lockdowns and pandemic-related movement restrictions in Nigeria, children have spent indelible years of their lives away from family, friends, classrooms, play – key elements of childhood itself,” UNICEF Nigeria Representative, Peter Hawkins, said. “They have also suffered an increase in violence and abuse, especially girl children.”
“Even before the pandemic, far too many children were burdened under the weight of unaddressed mental health issues. This has been compounded by the pandemic. The impact is significant, and it is sadly just the tip of the iceberg,” Peter Hawkins said.