Six effects of the pandemic on the mental health of adolescents and young people
Confined at home, isolated from friends, and confronted with loss, children and young people have faced increased risks to their mental health due to COVID-19
COVID-19 has put the wellbeing of an entire generation at risk. Even before the pandemic, too many children and young people carried the burden of mental health conditions without support.
In Latin America and the Caribbean, an estimated 15 per cent of children and adolescents aged 10-19 – around 16 million – live with a diagnosed mental disorder. That’s higher than the global average of around 13 per cent.
Reducing stigma around mental health conditions and ensuring access to quality mental health services should be a right for every child and adolescent.
Every day, more than 10 adolescents lose their lives to suicide in Latin America and the Caribbean. That’s almost 4,200 youth suicides per year.
Suicide is the third cause of death among adolescents aged 15-19 in the region.
Like physical health, mental health is a right and should be thought of as a positive: It underlies the human capacity to think, feel, learn, work, build meaningful relationships and contribute to communities and the world.
Following a daily routine that includes physical exercise, sleeping enough and eating healthy along with socializing with friends can reduce everyday anxiety during challenging times.
Despite growing awareness of the impact of mental health conditions, limited investment in mental health and continued stigma block children and their caregivers from getting help.
Today, investment in mental health can reduce the losses marked due to mental disorders among young people and help them become actively engaged adults in their communities.
The State of the World's Children 2021:
On my mind
Promoting, protecting and caring for children’s mental health
The COVID-19 pandemic has raised concerns about the mental health of a generation of children. But the pandemic may represent the tip of a mental health iceberg – an iceberg we have ignored for far too long. The State of the World’s Children 2021 examines child, adolescent and caregiver mental health. It focuses on risks and protective factors at critical moments in the life course and delves into the social determinants that shape mental health and well-being.
It calls for commitment, communication and action as part of a comprehensive approach to promote good mental health for every child, protect vulnerable children and care for children facing the greatest challenges.