While the Covid-19 pandemic was hard for all, children belonging to the most marginalized section in India were the worst affected as it led to their increased isolation, affecting their mental health significantly, according to a report on Tuesday.
The report by the non-profit Save the Children-Bal Raksha Bharat showed an increase in feelings of loneliness, anxiety, anger, grief, and substance and sexual abuse among children.
About 44 percent of children reported that they could not share their sorrow/anger/stress-related feelings with anyone and three out of four children could not share serious concerns like domestic/spousal violence with anyone.
Isolation from the peer group had a major impact on the mental well-being of the children with increased cases of child labor and substance abuse as they struggle to cope with a lack of coping mechanisms to express their feelings and thoughts.
This situation was further aggravated with, as perceived by parents, children being out of school and lacking learning opportunities at home (61 percent).
Most of the children (39 percent) were worried about death, illness, separation of a loved one, or fear of disease.
Feelings of loneliness (59 percent) and being worried about death, illness, separation, or disease (83 percent) was maximum in Karnataka whereas disturbed sleep patterns were majorly reported in Delhi (51 percent) while physical fighting was maximum in Jharkhand (42 percent).
A significant number of children also reported abuse, as they noted fear of being left alone with a given person (27 percent), sudden emotional or behavioral change (27 percent), abandonment of previous play habits (29 percent), genital/anal injuries (15 percent).
"Lockdown owing to Covid 19 not only led to reduced socializing amongst people but also increased the intensity of different emotions that parents and children feel. This brought a complex array of challenges that had mental health repercussions for children and adolescents," said Anindit Roy Chowdhury, Chief Programme Officer, Save the Children, in a statement.
For the report, 4,052 respondents (2,743 adults and 1,309 adolescents) spread across 24 districts across six states namely, Madhya Pradesh, Jharkhand, Delhi, Karnataka, Maharashtra, and Assam were surveyed between June 2020 to December 2021. (AA/IANS)