According to a report published by NGOs World Vision and War Child Holland this Thursday, 70 percent of displaced and refugee children say they need psychosocial support. That number has tripled from an estimated 22 percent prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The work “The Silent Pandemic” examines the consequences of COVID-19 for the mental health of children who live in conflict areas or have been forced to flee. In this sense, it appears that 43 percent of children living in “fragile” countries affected by the conflict indicated that they need psychosocial and psychological support as a “direct consequence” of the pandemic.
The study, which was carried out with nearly 500 children and adolescents in six “fragile” and conflict-affected countries, also shows that COVID-19 exacerbates the “pre-existing psychological distress” of children by “adding more anxiety to their stressed lives” . . These include the spread of COVID-19, the loss of family members, and the need to manage school and educational closings.
Therefore, the children surveyed largely relate to increased stress when they are out of school and have less access to services, activities, health centers, play areas, food and water. They also particularly miss sports, games, family activities – especially parents – to promote peace and the opening of schools.
The study also shows that 86 percent of younger children ages 7-14 and 81 percent of teenagers ages 15 to 17 can and want to seek emotional support from a friend or family member, while older teens ages 19 to For 24 years they have struggled to cope with their hardship, and only 41.8 percent have someone to turn to for assistance.
Dana Buzducea, World Vision’s global director of public relations and advocacy, has recognized that while COVID-19 has exacerbated mental health problems for children “already living with the anxiety, trauma and chronic stress of conflicts that disrupt their lives and do” threaten, but have their effects. ” was extremely harmful. “
Along these lines, War Child Holland’s humanitarian director, Unni Krishnan, has agreed, saying that “the mental health and well-being of children is seriously deteriorating during this pandemic”.
“It is time to act,” he concluded, arguing that an entire generation of vulnerable children could have potentially catastrophic and lasting effects on their mental health and well-being if left unsupported. “Given that access to mental health services and psychosocial support was already limited before the pandemic, imagine the urgency at this point,” he added.
Currently, mental health and psychosocial assistance funding accounts for only 1 percent of all humanitarian health funding. That is why World Vision and War Child have appealed to the international community to contribute $ 1,400 million to provide urgent mental health support for the approximately 456 million children affected.
“Children who have experienced conflict, violence and serious traumatic events urgently need unimpeded access to mental health services and psychosocial support,” said Buzducea, who complained that only 2 to 4 percent of national health budgets in the countries where these children are located live life is spent on mental health.
“Additionally, these resources are limited or non-existent for children living in fragile and conflict-affected areas. There is a great shortage of funding that needs to be addressed,” he said before stressing that if they are not It is possible that the world is facing a “global child mental health crisis”. “We have a moral responsibility to act now, before it’s too late,” he added.