BANGKOK, 14 April 2020 – More than 8 in 10 children and young people in Thailand said they were deeply worried that the COVID-19 pandemic would affect their household income as their parents may not be able to work regularly due to business shutdown and layoffs, according to a UNICEF-led survey released today and the first of its kind conducted on the impact of COVID-19 on children and young people.
The survey, jointly developed by UNICEF, Children and Youth Council of Thailand, The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and The United Nations Populations Fund (UNFPA), collected data from 6,771 young people across Thailand, most of them aged 15-19 years old. Conducted between 27 March to 6 April, the online survey aims to better understand the impact of COVID-19 pandemic on children and young people, as well as identify their needs to support them in coping with the crisis.
The survey also found that more than 7 in 10 children and young people in Thailand said COVID-19 pandemic is affecting their mental health, causing stress, worry, and anxiety, though what worries children and young people the most is the uncertainty of their family’s financial status.
Another significant stress factor is the uncertainly of their ability to continue learning and being adequately prepared for future employment. Following school closure measures, more than half of the young respondents said they are worried about their studies, exams and future education and employment. About half of them are stressed from not being able to leave their homes, while 7 per cent of the respondents said they are concerned about domestic violence.
The pandemic is also affecting LGBTI youth who are facing increased pressure from not having social activities, who have to instead stay at home with parents or caretakers who are unaware of their gender identity.
“This new survey clearly shows how COVID-19 pandemic has far reaching negative effects on children and young people beyond the threat of the virus itself,” said Thomas Davin, UNICEF Representative for Thailand. “Stress, anxiety and uncertainly affect not only adults, but also children and young people who are impacted greatly by the current situation.
“Only weeks in since the crisis began, vulnerable families are already struggling to cope. Some don’t even have enough money to put food on the table for their children. Without proper measures in place to address these issues, children and young people will fall through the cracks or be stuck in a prolonged vicious cycle,” added Davin.
Wassana Im-em, Head of Office of UNFPA Thailand said: “The survey shows that 36 per cent of all 6,700 youth respondents identify that they have elderly people aged over 60 at home. With good health knowledge and awareness of social-distancing, young people could be the game-changer through their health and mental support to the elderly, one of the most vulnerable people during this COVID-19 pandemic.”
To help children and families cope with COVID-19 consequences, strengthening social protection measures as well as ensuring that children and young people have access to alternative learning, counselling, peer-support services, and access to professional mental health services will be key.
Suphaphit Chaiyadit, President of Children and Youth Council of Thailand said: “The government should pay more attention to adolescent mental health during and after the pandemic. Children and youth must be protected and supported to ensure their age-appropriate development.”
Renaud Meyer, Resident Representative of United Nations Development Programme said: “The Covid-19 pandemic is more than a health crisis and has significant socio-economic impacts that, if affecting everyone, are more seriously felt by vulnerable groups such as children and youth. Supporting youth is therefore much needed to not only ensure they are protected from COVID-19 but are also further empowered to contribute to the COVID-19 response and to design a more sustainable, inclusive and resilient post-COVID society.”
With prolonged school closure, the survey responses reflected the need for measures for children and young people to improve their knowledge and skills while staying at home. The survey found that English is the most desired online course among the young respondents, followed by online learning related to their current school curricula. About 1 in 4 young respondents said they want to learn how to deal with stress and depression.
“In a time like this, family is the anchor that can help children and young people cope with stress and fear,” said Davin. “Parents and elders need to give children and young people space to express such anxieties and help them - more than ever- feel loved, valued for who they are, and protected.
In Thailand, UNICEF and Path2Health Foundation are providing a 24-hour counselling online services via www.lovecarestation.com to promote youth-friendly mental health services that are easy to access and specially designed for young people. UNICEF is encouraging young people to visit the website to find useful information on mental wellbeing as well as advice on how to seek appropriate services.
Download survey: https://uni.cf/2yfFqa6
Note to the editor:
In support of national efforts to curb the spread of COVID-19 and address its secondary impact, UNICEF is developing and sharing life-saving educational materials on how to prevent the spread of COVID-19 through mass media and social media channels. UNICEF is also working to help migrant communities stay informed in 18 provinces, while procuring and distributing essential medical and hygiene supplies to support vulnerable children and young people and facilitate the safe reopening of schools in the coming months. Additionally, UNICEF is analysing the economic and social impact of COVID-19, particularly on the most vulnerable children and families, to support the Royal Thai Government in providing social protection support to poor and marginalised families.
For updates on COVID-19 visit: https://www.unicef.org/thailand/coronavirus/covid-19
UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere.
For more information about UNICEF and its work for children, visit www.unicef.org.