The pandemic process has been challenging for children, especially since schools have switched to online education. The pandemic process has been challenging for children, especially since schools have switched to online education. Stating that children's contact with their friends decreased during the pandemic process, experts emphasize that this situation causes social isolation. Experts; Noting that children with underlying mental disorders are more affected during the pandemic, eating disorders and the time they look at the screen increase, he advises parents to seek expert support.
With the initiative of the World Mental Health Federation, 1992 October has been commemorated as “World Mental Health Day” every year since 10 and it is aimed to draw attention to the importance of mental health. This year's theme was announced as "Mental Health in an Unequal World". The World Health Organization has set the theme for World Mental Health 2021 as "Mental health care for all: Let's make it a reality".
Üsküdar University NP Etiler Medical Center Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Specialist Assist. Assoc. Dr. Mine Elagöz Yüksel evaluated the effects of the pandemic period on the mental health of children within the framework of World Mental Health Day.
Children experienced social isolation during the pandemic
Stating that last year was a difficult year for children, Assist. Assoc. Dr. Mine Elagöz Yüksel said, “They were particularly impressed by the fact that schools switched to online education. First of all, they lost contact with their friends and stayed away from socializing in the school environment. They had a hard time paying attention in distance education. This period caused social isolation for both the child and the family, and the children were kept away not only from their friends but also from their relatives. However, if there was a loss, it also had an impact on the children. There were children who lost their loved ones and relatives without saying goodbye. Despite the negativities, children had time to share more with their families in this process. However, this situation also led to increased conflicts for some families.” said.
Children with mental illnesses are more affected
Expressing that children are affected differently according to their age, Yüksel said, “Parents with children in the pre-school period experienced the effects of their children's mental state more. Especially children with underlying mental disorders were more affected during the pandemic period. For example, children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and special learning difficulties could not benefit from distance education as much as their peers. Online education problems have been experienced all over the world. Therefore, in this new period, we should not worry about being left behind. It is very important to communicate with the teacher in order to learn about the academic achievements of the child.” he said.
Eating disorders and screen time increased
Emphasizing that children with previous depression and anxiety disorders may have experienced an increase in their complaints due to social isolation, Yüksel said, “We observed an increase in eating disorders in children. The eating and sleeping habits of children with emotional eating needs have changed due to the stressful environment they are in. Increased screen time. This situation has emerged as an important problem for children who are prone to internet addiction. With the start of face-to-face education, children moved away from loneliness and found an environment where they could socialize again. Changed sleep patterns are back to normal as schools switch to face-to-face education.” used the phrases.
Parents whose children are affected should seek expert support
Child – Adolescent Psychiatrist Assist. Assoc. Dr. Mine Elagöz Yüksel, 'Children suddenly started full-time face-to-face education after a long-term online education. It is not possible to say that every child adapts to this transition easily' and continued his words as follows:
“We can see that children with separation anxiety and staying at home for a long time do not want to go to school, have abdominal pain and nausea during school. In addition, we can say that the adaptation period is longer in young children who could not go to school in the last period, they are more impulsive and have difficulty in obeying the rules. This was most evident in children who started primary school this year. Children with underlying attention deficit hyperactivity disorder or conduct disorder had more adjustment problems. If parents think that their children are affected by this process, they should seek support from a child psychiatrist immediately. We have witnessed a lot of delay in treatments during the pandemic period. Disruption of treatments can cause problems to become chronic and more difficult to find solutions in the future.”
It's not right to ban technology completely
Reminding that the use of technology has increased in the pandemic, Yüksel said, “Technology should not be perceived as bad as a whole. It may be necessary to guide especially young children, to find and recommend suitable cartoons and games. It's not right to ban it completely. Children can play these games with their friends. Children should be informed and protected about technology and internet use in general. Physical, sexual, emotional and violent games and practices should be avoided. They should be taught what to pay attention to, especially when talking to people they do not know.” said.
Too many games lead to attention deficit
Stating that irritability, lack of empathy, lack of attention and unwillingness to study can be seen in children who play a lot, Yüksel said, “If the child gives high reactions when the game is asked to be taken away, spends a lot of time in the game, stays awake at night, does not have any activity other than playing, and constantly plays games. If you are bored, it is necessary to think about the reasons behind playing a lot of games. Wanting to forget bad events and not taking responsibility can lead to game addiction. Apart from that, it creates a sense of belonging for children who are prone to depression and feel lonely to find groups with children like themselves.” used the phrases.
Rules should be decided with the child
Stating that children with low self-confidence are more likely to be in front of the screen when they have a high fear of missing out, Yüksel concluded his words as follows:
“These kids can take everything they see for real and believe that there are positive things but they don't have it. This leads to unhappiness and anxiety. The concept of nomophobia has come to the fore again in people who have high fears of 'I can't reach the smart phone' and 'either the battery runs out or I forget it somewhere'. The fact that the family buys the child a phone or tablet and allows it to be used does not mean that the child has no rules. Rules should be set together if the child is older. It is important to pay attention to before bedtime. Going to bed with him not only increases his exposure to blue light, but also causes him to sleep late because he can't put it down."