Wednesday, December 1

Pandemic worsened mental health of children

A new report from the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) reveals the extent of the problems adolescents have with regard to their mental health. Accordingly, suicide is already the second leading cause of death among young people in Europe.

Only during the coronavirus pandemic would the topic have received sufficient attention. Now it is important to help those affected quickly, it was said at a press conference of UNICEF and Austria’s League for Child and Adolescent Health.

Almost 20 percent frequently depressed

Because according to UNICEF, the numbers are alarming. In a survey from the beginning of 2021, 19 percent of adolescents between the ages of 15 and 24 said they often feel depressed and listless. “The figures document a crisis that has been looming for a long time,” commented Corinna Geissler from UNICEF Austria on the report.

Even before the pandemic and its devastating effects on the psyche of children and adolescents in Europe, one in seven people between the ages of ten and 19 had been diagnosed with a psychological disorder – this trend would now have undoubtedly intensified, said Geissler.

160,000 children and young people burdened

According to UNICEF estimates, 160,000 children and young people in Austria are currently under psychological stress. “They all need psychosocial care, but only 36,000 people are currently being treated,” said the clinical psychologist Caroline Culen, criticizing the supply shortages.

Despite the great need, governments around the world spend only 2.1 percent of their health budgets on helping people with the mental health of their citizens. According to the expert, however, the need for auxiliary facilities could continue to grow.

The pandemic would have stopped natural development tasks; the young people would not have been able to move around and prove themselves socially in unknown networks during the lockdowns. “It’s like telling a kid you can’t grow any more,” said Culen.

More offers required

It was therefore necessary to expand support offers, demanded UNICEF from the domestic politicians: “The children in Austria must know where and to whom they can turn if they are not doing well. Advice should be available in several languages ​​and also be available in digital space, ”said Geissler. Low-threshold and, above all, free offers are needed.

Parental programs should also raise the awareness of the legal guardians to problems of the children, because in case of psychological stress it is important to act quickly and “just don’t wait and look the other way”. Because what the current UNICEF report also shows: 83 percent of 15- to 24-year-olds would accept existing offers of help with regard to psychological problems.

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