The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated mental health issues among children and young people, and its impact may be felt for years to come, according to the United Nations children’s agency, UNICEF.
UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore said on Tuesday the containment measures and restrictions imposed by governments in efforts to keep the virus at bay have contributed to this.
“With nationwide lockdowns and pandemic-related movement restrictions, children have spent indelible years of their lives away from family, friends, classrooms, play – key elements of childhood itself,” she said.
“The impact is significant, and it is just the tip of the iceberg. Even before the pandemic, far too many children were burdened under the weight of unaddressed mental health issues.”
She also noted that there is little government investment aimed at addressing the issue, adding that not enough importance is being placed on the relationship between mental health and future life outcomes.
U.N. data shows that at least one in seven children worldwide has been directly affected by lockdowns, and some 1.6 children have suffered some loss of education.
UNICEF has fronted various recommendations, including investing in all sectors and scaling up evidence-based interventions, including parenting programs that promote responsive and nurturing caregiving.