BY LORRAINE MUROMO
United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef) has warned that young children and adolescents could suffer long-term effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In a recent report titled The state of the World’s Children 2021 running under the theme, On My Mind: Promoting, Protecting and caring for children’s mental health, the world body said an estimated 13% of adolescents aged 10 to 19 years might be diagnosed with post-COVID mental disorders.
“Uncertainty, loneliness and grief, these powerful emotions have enveloped the lives of many millions of children, young people and families. Children and young people could feel the impact of COVID-19 on their mental health and well-being for many years to come,” part of the Unicef report read.
“As we enter the third year of the pandemic, the disruption to routines, education, recreation, as well as concern for family income and health, is leaving many young people feeling afraid, angry and concerned about their future.”
It said in 21 countries, roughly one in five young people aged between 15 and 24 said they often felt depressed or had little interest in doing things they used to do.
Community Working Group on Health (CWGH) executive director, Itai Rusike told NewsDay that children in Zimbabwe were reportedly also experiencing mental distress due to the effects of COVID-19.
“Even before the pandemic, adolescents in Zimbabwe were documented to experience depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorders and entertaing suicidal ideas, while studies also noted under-reporting of mental illness in adolescents,” Rusike said.
He said insecurity, hunger and social violence were some of the causes although they were present even before the global pandemic.
Rusike called for provision of a range of mental health services and capacities to manage the disorders affecting adolescents.
Society for Prenatal Services secretary and chief talent team leader Linos Muvhu said the mental health of children should be prioritised.
“Science guiding us as we implement our projects and policies indicates that mental health issues can even start during foetal programming.”
Medical and Dental Private Practitioners Zimbabwe Association president Johannes Marisa said COVID-19 would result in many people having post-traumatic stress disorder, depression and anxiety.
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