SRINAGAR — In Kashmir valley, the anxiety and stress among children during the COVID-19 has gone up by at least nine per cent.
Various psychologists and pediatricians spoke to KNO as to what impact COVID-19 has left on children.
Akriti Hussain, a psychologist and therapist, said the impact of COVID-19 on children in Kashmir is huge.
“If we look up the statistics, anxiety and depression rate has gone up by eight to nine per cent among children and those already reeling under mental issues. Things are worsening for them because they are not able to participate in any sort of physical activities,” Hussain said.
She said that many children as well as parents lack awareness about seeking help.
“Mental health is a big issue especially among children because the behavioural changes can reflect the impact,” Hussain said.
She said that children are getting anxious at home because there is no routine and structure to be followed.
Hussain said that be it COVID-19 or abrogation of Article 370, things are still not so good for children in terms of help services especially for those suffering from high anxiety levels, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) or autism.
“After two consecutive lockdowns in 2019 after the abrogation of Article 370 and outbreak of COVID-19 in March last year, mental issues are escalating among children,” she said.
Another psychologist, Sadaqat Rehman, said that doctors in Kashmir have started counselling children online to help them fight stress and anxiety.
“Because of fear and safety, children have been restricted to homes since the outbreak of the pandemic, which has eventually become prisons for them,” Rehman said.
Sadaqat said that the issue of being disturbed mentally is not among children only, but adults can as well face trauma if kept at one place only.
“The behaviour of children has changed after the pandemic. Children tend to get violent and their tolerance level has decreased. Panic in adults about the uncertainty of the future reflects in the child’s behaviour,” Rehman said.
She said the stress of pandemic cannot be managed by medication.
“The only way to handle it is by giving assurance to the children that they are safe,” Sadaqat said.
“We have started classes, namely ‘Anxiety Managements Groups’ by following all Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs), wherein children can share their experiences and get connected with each other. The groups consists of 7-8 children each,” Rehman said.
Likewise, Shahid Tak, a pediatrician, said, “A number of children turn up for mental check-up because almost every second, a child is directly or indirectly affected because of being home for a long time.
“Children have reciprocal impact on mental health for being at home for a long time,” Tak said. (KNO)