The health alert increases children’s psychological problems

The pandemic has severely affected the mental health of children.

The pandemic has severely affected the mental health of children.

The ANAR telephone service to minors shows in his annual X-ray a increased psychological problems in children in 2020: during confinement suicidal ideation rose 244.1%, anxiety 280.6%, low self-esteem 212.3% and depression / sadness 87.7%. What’s more, eating disorders increased 826.3% coinciding with the first exits from home and after returning to school, self-harm increased by 246.2%, aggressiveness by 124.5% and bereavement by 24.5%.

These are data from the “ANAR 2020 Annual Report: the ANAR Phone / Chat in times of covid-19“made public by the organization of attention to children and that warns of the consequences that the pandemic has left in the mental health of minors, who “has altered and aggravated” the problems that affect them. During the state of alarm, the ANAR Foundation responded to 166,433 requests for help from all over Spain, 11,761 serious cases.

The report also detects an increase in problems associated with technology, which went from 23.2% in 2019 to 29.9%, affecting cases of “grooming”, cyberbullying, gender violence, child pornography / prostitution, eating disorders, self-harm, suicidal ideations and attempts, and other psychological problems.

During confinement and the first exits, difficulties related to separation, custody and visitation emerged (confinement: 42.3% increased; first exits: 51.9%) and inquiries related to social assistance and child poverty, which they reached the sharpest difference in confinement (plus 307.2%), adding up to a total of 139 cases attended.

In general, the 2020 X-ray indicates the severity of cases reflected in the high number of emergency interventions: 2,277 throughout the year, with an average of 6 per day. “This represents an increase in cases of high urgency (39.1%) and of maximum severity (55.6%)” with respect to the previous year, he specified. The study confirms a longer duration of the problems, since confinement and isolation have caused chronify many of them: half of the cases have been happening for more than a year.

For the Director of Programs of Fundación ANAR, Benjamín Ballesteros, “the pandemic has generated a ‘Molotov cocktail’ in homes that explains the increase in serious problems in children: the confinement of the family nucleus in a small space, the pressure on the families due to work or financial problems or the absence of other protective places such as school or the doctor “. “To this have been added the fear of the pandemic and the mourning for loved ones in many cases,” he asserts.

The director of the ANAR Telephone, Diana Díaz, considers that “the consequences of the covid have generated in minors a great frustration due to the helplessness and despair that explain why many adolescents have increased their ideas and attempts to suicide during confinement “.” They have used harmful emotional self-regulation mechanisms in order to achieve the reduction of their anxiety, such as self-harm with going back to school or the compensation mechanisms typical of eating disorders, which have been triggered coinciding with the first exits “, has warned.

After these figures, the ANAR Foundation makes a series of recommendations for public authorities, families and minors “given the need to act due to the seriousness of these trends.” Among them, incorporating a greater number of professionals in the area of ​​mental health; the declaration as essential services to those intended for the prevention, protection and assistance of minors against violence, or the speeding up in the creation of specialized Courts for children and families that the law for the protection of children against violence provides, which came into effect on June 25.


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