Covid-19 has proven to be a handful for children to process; it has brought unexpected changes to the lives of children. This is to say that the disruption of normal activities, missing out on the opportunities for socialisation, sudden split from friends, trying to do effective learning from home and the fear of the virus itself are some of the challenges that children have to deal with. Generally, people are more concerned with the physical symptoms of COVID-19 than its mental health impact on people especially on children.
The pandemic and lockdown may have effects on children’s mental health in many different ways. Children may experience a surge in anxiety, conflict at home and may stress over the disruption of their normal home and school routines.
Apart from the existence of the sense of fear and anxiety due to COVID-19, the disease has led to psychosocial and mental health implications especially for children. Before the pandemic, children of school-going age were able to physically interact with their colleagues and teachers; they also had a general education curriculum which was running smoothly, unfortunately, the temporary closure of basic and senior high schools and tertiary institutions disturbed the flow of teaching and learning especially for underprivileged children in the rural areas.
The confinement of children at home over the period led to children becoming more irritable, attention-seeking and dependent on their parents. In addition, due to prolonged stay at home, online class sessions have been the way for students to keep up with their education; thus, the increased use of the internet resources and social media by children makes them vulnerable for cyberbully and other internet related malpractices.
In a country where the issue of mental health is still struggling to get the needed attention and investment, one cannot help but to wonder what strategies have been put in place by stakeholders in the education and health sectors, and parents to mitigate the negative impact of the pandemic on the mental health of children. As the government has eased restrictions on social gatherings and students are gradually being asked to return to school, it is recommended that as part of the government’s efforts to deal with the pandemic, support for children’s mental health is included. In addition, parents and stakeholders in the education and health sectors should work collaboratively to develop and implement strategies to enhance children’s (especially the underprivileged) access to mental health services during this period of the crises and after it is over.