Alka Arya. Mental Disorder News UNICEF, an international organization working for child rights, in its recently released report The State of the World’s Children-2021, has put to the world the truth that a general tendency to ignore is found all around us. In 21 countries of the world, 860 million adolescents in the age group of 15-19 years and 80 million adolescents in the age group of 10-14 are suffering from some form of mental disorder. Suicide is one of the three most common causes of death among girls aged 15-19. It is one of the four most common causes of death in boys of the same age group. Globally, every seventh adolescent aged 10-19 is living a life with a clinical psychiatric disorder. Among these, the largest number of such adolescents is in South Asia.

Talking about India, the situation here too is worrying. Most of the children in the country go undiagnosed with such malformations and are hesitant to seek help or seek treatment. Even before the Kovid-pandemic, about five crore children in the country were affected by mental health related issues. According to the Indian Journal of Psychiatry, 80-90 percent of such children did not seek any help. National Crime Records Bureau 2018 and 2019 figures show that one student commits suicide every hour in the country. The World Health Organization has estimated India’s loss of $1.03 trillion due to mental health conditions over 18 years from 2012-2030. India as a nation seems to have failed in this direction, despite the demand for improving the mental health of adolescents in the country. The investment that India has made in this area is negligible. India spends only 0.05 percent of its total health budget on mental health.

When the UNICEF report was being launched, Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya was also present on the occasion. It should be expected that he will increase the budget for mental health in the country. However, he stressed the need for special training to teachers to identify mental health problems of adolescents and youth, so that they can be provided with the advice of psychologists. Apart from this, by promoting open dialogue with senior family members, early identification of mental problems of adolescents and youth can be ensured.

These suggestions are good, but implementing them on a practical level will require massive awareness campaigns and investments. It will not be easy to win the trust of children and adolescents. Who will guarantee the protection of their privacy? Once their trust in the school administration is broken, their self-respect, dignity and security are eroded, many other challenges will come to the fore. As far as the family environment is concerned, it is not hidden from anyone how progressive Indian society and family are in this matter. Most of the family members do not consider stress, depression, frustration, restlessness as an issue. So the question of discussion does not arise. Whether the family is bound by traditional rules and regulations or according to the modern style, it is also an important point to know how much proper understanding and financial capacity to know and treat such problems of children.

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Edited By: Sanjay Pokhriyal