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One in five young people feel depressed: Unicef

One in five young people feel depressed: Unicef

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a sizeable impact on children's mental health and well-being claims a study conducted by Unicef in collaboration with Gallup polls. The study surveyed 15-24 year olds in over 20 countries around the world.

The findings do not reflect diagnosed depression but negative feelings about work, school, stress and family matters, the UN reported. Almost a third of children in Cameroon said they often felt depressed or had little interest in doing things, while one in five children in the UK, and one in 10 children in Ethiopia and Japan felt this way.

"Studies indicated an increase in hazardous and problematic alcohol and substance use among adolescents since the outbreak of the pandemic and found this to be associated with behavioural problems (including anger and irritability), especially among boys," the report reads. Boys were more likely to manifest their issues in the form of substance abuse while girls reported higher rates of depression and anxiety. Meanwhile, adolescents with diagnosed issues like ADHd and anxiety were more likely to experience escalation of symptoms during periods of lockdown in the pandemic, the UN reported.

The report highlighted how more than one in seven 10- to 19-year-olds (13%) are estimated to live with a diagnosed mental health disorder – 89 million boys and 77 million girls. The UN did however caution against drawing a direct causation between higher rates of suicide and the pandemic as many factors could come into play.

The importance of mental health was highlighted in the report, which also pointed out that a significant portion of Chinese-American children in the United States had reported feeling stigmatised due to the public association between China and the pandemic. A lack of data gathering and routine monitoring meant the picture of young people's mental health status and needs in most countries was extremely limited, said the report.

"Our findings are largely drawn from evidence of the countries most affected by COVID-19 disease early on in 2020 – especially China, Italy and the US. More evidence is needed of how it affects child and adolescent mental health in low- and middle-income regions and countries," said the report.

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TAGS:covid19depressionUNICEFMental health
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