Counsellors extend support to children in Covid times | India News


NEW DELHI: From fear of recovering in isolation to seeking help to cope with behavioural issues like aggression, varied concerns affecting children impacted by Covid-19 have been shared over 742 calls with counsellors since September, when a tele-counselling psychological first aid facility was first launched by the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR).
While the calls over the last two-three months have been fewer and mostly about anxiety around exam schedules, the second wave of cases has brought children’s health and mental well-being back into focus. Called SAMVEDNA (Sensitizing Action on -Mental Health Vulnerability through Emotional Development and Necessary Acceptance) the toll free tele-counselling service — 1800-121-2830 — is serviced by a network of qualified experts, counsellors and psychologists.
The facility aims to provide emotional support to children who are in quarantine, isolation or at Covid care centres. Children whose parents or family members are infected and those who have lost their parents to the virus are also a focus group.
In the middle of a surge in cases, the NCPCR has now written to the state authorities asking them to re-circulate information about the tele-counselling facility at Covid care centres and isolation facilities and senstise staff, doctors, frontline workers so that children can be guided to seek help from experts on the toll free number.
NCPCR chief Priyank Kanoongo has said, “The ongoing wave is hitting all of us badly and unlike last year it is affecting children too. Children may experience a range of pschological issues such as anxiety, fear, depression, difficulty in sleeping and loss of apetite. Quarantine and isolation may also also lead to acute stress disorder, trauma and grief in many children.”
The tele-counselling data shows that the impact of the pandemic on the daily education routine and exams has been a major cause of concern among children and their parents. While around October-November callers incuded children directly impacted by Covid, between March 1 to April 15 most of the 76 interventions carried out by counsellors were related to concerns surrounding exam schedules.
Later last year children reported varied concerns. In one case a 6-year-old child lodged in isolation at a care centre in Kanpur was exhibiting aggressive behaviour. The counsellors cited this to be a sign of loneliness that the child was experiencing. In another case, a 17-year-old boy in isolation in a care centre in Madhya Pradesh called to said that he was scared about being alone. In another case, a 15-year-old child lodged in isolation at a care centre in Aurangabad shared her frustration of not getting enough love from parents. In this case both, the child and her parents were counselled.
Times View: Children living in shelter homes are extremely vulnerable in various ways. In these pandemic times they must be protected, and if need be, given proper treatment and care. NCPCR is right in seeking information on them.



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