The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) says the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on children’s mental health in Nigeria was rising, as one in six young adults between the age of 15 and 24 years was currently experiencing depression.
UNICEF said this in its flagship report, “State of the World’s Children 2021; On My Mind: promoting, protecting and caring for children’s mental health” released on Tuesday, in Abuja.
The report is UNICEF’s most comprehensive look at the mental health of children, adolescents, and caregivers in the 21st century.
It estimates that the current impact of COVID-19 on children’s mental health was a ‘tip of the iceberg’ as the trend was likely to continue in the next years.
The report said that the negative trend can, however, be reversed if the Federal Government increased funding for mental health.
Data from UNICEF shows that globally, one in seven children have been directly affected by lockdowns adding that more than 1.6 billion children have suffered some loss of education; the disruption to routines, education, and recreation.
Concern for family income and health is leaving many young people feeling afraid, angry, and concerned for their future.
It said, although almost 46,000 adolescents die from suicides every year, wide gaps persist between mental health needs and mental health funding.
The report said only 2 per cent of government health budgets is allocated to mental health spending globally.
The report, therefore, called on governments, private, and public sector partners to act to promote mental health for all children, adolescents, and caregivers.
It suggested that this could be achieved through investments in child and adolescent mental health, breaking the silence surrounding mental illness by addressing stigma, and sensitization to improve understanding of mental health. NAN