Children Wellbeing and Development During Covid-19
Introduction[edit | edit source]
Wellbeing is a term used synonymously with a wide range of concepts including self-esteem, self efficacy, self-determination, resilience, quality of life, mood enhancement, positive mental health, life satisfaction, and worth wholeness. It is variously linked to positive and negative affect, quality of life, happiness, personal growth and flourishing, capability, self-acceptance, positive relationships and autonomy  . The World Health Organization (WHO) defines wellness as “the optimal state of health of individuals and groups" and it is expressed as “a positive approach to living” . According to the WHO, wellness has two cardinal concerns, which are the achievement of individuals’ fullest potentials physically, psychologically, socially, spiritually, and economically, and carrying out individuals’ expectations in the family, community, place of worship, workplace, and other settings. Children and adolescents are generally healthy and do not require much health care outside of regular checkups and immunizations. However, mental health care is very important for children and adolescents.
COVID-19 is caused by a coronavirus which can result in acute respiratory distress in humans and is transmitted through respiratory droplets and contact routes. It was declared as a global pandemic virus outbreak on March 11, 2020 by the WHO . The COVID‐19 global pandemic has brought many challenges to people's lives including quarantine and other social distancing measures put in place to prevent the rapid spread of infection and serious illness or death . The scale and scope of this pandemic are exceptional, and come with economic, health, and educational disruptions emanating that will have long‐lasting effects on young people’s development  .
Effects of Covid-19[edit | edit source]
- Health problems directly or indirectly related to Covid-19
Many people especially young children and adolescents are living the bad effects of Covid-19 as a consequence of rules and prevention measures in place in different countries. Reports from surveys in some countries like the US have shown that more than one-third of parents of children less than 6 years of age reported delaying health care visits . Among the risk group, are also HIV-positive pregnant women and those in the postnatal period, mainly in Sub-Saharan Africa, interrupting their supply of antiretroviral medication, placing their infants at risk of vertical transmission of HIV. Furthermore, interruptions to vaccinations schedule, illnesses, and hospitalization also have effects on children's health, nutrition, and wellbeing. As long as the critical resources are taken away from primary care to curb the pandemic, the health care sector and its patients will continue to be in danger.
- Economical Effects
In several studies, parents reported financial concerns commonly due to one or both parents losing jobs as a result of the stay‐at‐home order or the financial crisis worldwide. Parents are therefore constantly worrying when it comes to making payments related to food, school fees, rent, cars, health expenses, daily expenses, etc.
- Psychological Effects
The COVID-19 pandemic may worsen existing mental health problems and lead to more cases among children and adolescents because of the unique combination of the public health crisis, social isolation, and economic recession. The scientific community has increasingly reported the potential effects on child wellbeing and mental health due to several causes among which anxiety and stress related to school closures. It has also been shown that social disruptions from the pandemic are linked with daily stressors that impact the quality of relationships between parents or caregivers; parents and their children as well as relationships among siblings . Research on COVID‐19 published early in the course of the pandemic suggested sensitive levels of psychological problems and post-traumatic stress disorders (PSDT) symptoms for some school‐aged children, adolescents, and young adults in China in addition to certain behaviors ranging from illness avoidance and judgment to greater anxiety and symptoms of depression among North American adolescents aged 13‐ to 18‐year‐olds .
- Educational Effects
The support that children and adolescents were receiving is compromised because of the all the stressors and uncertainties their parents or caregivers are navigating through during the pandemic. Children and adolescents are facing disruptions not only related to school closure but also to their parents’ work and economic circumstances; decrease the number of students per class; reductions in young children’s access to child care, and teachers and schools managing the abrupt transition for school‐age youth to online learning . As many families’ routines have been disrupted severely; some working parents and caregivers struggle to find a balance between their remote work and the assistance needed by their children during online schooling. Several schools and children are also exposed to the lack of internet connectivity and/or appropriate educational material to participate in online learning. Amongst other challenges, there is a lack of preparation for distance teaching with both teachers and caregivers not having the proper training to address the educational needs of young children distantly. Young children who were used to in-person learning system . Moreover, children are deprived of both social and cognitive stimulation beyond their homes due to the schools' closure and lack of exchanges with extended families and friends . Studies were done on 3 to 18 years old in Italy and Spain demonstrated negative effects of quarantine on youth where parents reported changes in their child's emotional state with the following symptoms reported: difficulty concentrating, boredom, irritability, restlessness and nervousness .
- Physical Effects
The COVID-19 virus outbreak has led to significant changes in daily life for children, youth, and their families, with specific recommendations and restrictions varying within and between countries. In many countries restrictions requiring physical distancing and limited community and social gatherings and interactions, sport, and playground and park use are put in place . With many children attending online schooling, opportunities to exercise and meet their recommended levels of physical activity have decreased.
What can be recommended?[edit | edit source]
- Telemental health services to support the wellbeing and health of children and adolescents as they are shown to be similarly effective as in-person services.
- Teacher training to acquire basic skills to address issues of mental health and trauma.
- Maternal/ Pregnancy follow-up to avoid problems such as preterm birth or increased perinatal complications.
- Health promotion at all levels to avoid an increase of likelihood diseases such as obesity, NCDs.
- Radio, television, digital, and app-based learning programs for young children to tackle mental health issues.
- Community-based psychosocial interventions support.
- Economic relief to be provided in terms of emergency food provision and Cash transfer programs to boost businesses.
- Building network-based communication strategies for isolated communities or marginalized groups such as people with disabilities, immigrants, refugees, victims of racism, etc.
- Increase opportunities to increase physical levels through active outdoor playing, walking, cycling while respecting the public health restrictions
- Create family activities or try new leisure hobbies to reduce time spent in screen-based and other sedentary behaviors.
- Parents /caregivers training on utilization of different technology tools and platforms used for distance learning.
References[edit | edit source]
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