Covid-19 is ‘tip of the iceberg’ for mental health problems in children

Ella Rhodes on a UNICEF report.

In its first ever State of the World’s Children report to focus on mental health, outgoing Executive Director of UNICEF Henrietta Fore has written that the impact of Covid-19 is the tip of the iceberg in terms of poor mental health outcomes. ‘It is an iceberg we have been ignoring for far too long, and unless we act, it will continue to have disastrous results for children and societies long after the pandemic is over.’

The authors of the report highlighted the staggering rates of mental health issues in children and young people worldwide – there are around 89 million boys and 77 million girls aged 10 to 19 with a mental health problem. Suicide is the fifth most prevalent cause of death for young people in this same age range. The Middle East, North Africa, North America, and Western Europe have the highest prevalence rates of diagnosed mental health disorders, meanwhile the global median government expenditure on mental health is 2.1 per cent of the median government expenditure on general health.

The report also explored the impact of stigma, the economic impact of mental health problems, risks and protective factors, as well as poverty, discrimination, humanitarian crises and Covid-19 and their impact on mental health.

It concluded by calling for commitment, by ensuring investment in the area; communication, through addressing stigma and improving mental health literacy; and action, including minimising risk factors and encouraging mental health protective factors. 

To read the full UNICEF report see tinyurl.com/vnkdty53

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