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Secondary literature review from various countries shows onset and worsening of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
TRAC 2022 appeals to families, communities, schools, civil society, and the government to Promote, Strengthen, and Address Mental Health for all children

New Delhi, 24th January 2023: With a spotlight on Mental Health and Psychosocial well-being of Children amid COVID-19, Bal Raksha Bharat (globally known as Bal Raksha Bharat) launched the first edition of its flagship report TRAC 2022 – The Rights & Agency of Children. In the context of an annual focus on a spotlight issue, this year’s TRAC Report is focused on ‘Mental Health and Psychosocial Wellbeing of Children’ amidst COVID-19, and has been made in consultation with NIMHANS and other organisations. It aims to contribute to policy and programme making at national, state and local levels towards strengthening mental health systems across all relevant departments.

The report was launched by Sh. Rakesh Ranjan, Mission Director, Aspirational District Program, NITI Aayog in the presence of other experts and dignitaries like Prof A. K. Shiva Kumar, Development Economist & Policy Analyst Ms. Soledad Herrero, Chief of Child Protection, UNICEF, Dr Gauri Divan, Director, Child Development Group, Sangath and Deepak Kapoor, Chairperson, Bal Raksha Bharat.

The primary study on mental health and psychosocial well-being amid COVID-19 with 4200 children highlights the coping strategy used by children to face the distress caused by the pandemic in the last two years, using a global Brief-COPE study tool (Coping Experience to Problem Experienced). Findings of this section have been drawn out of a consultation with 4200 children across 5 states of India (Assam, Bihar, MP, Telangana, UP), and secondary literature review across different countries. The study corresponds to 14 different coping strategies (which are further classified under three categories – problem focused, emotion-focused, and avoidant coping) and assesses coping patterns amongst children during the pandemic.

Unveiling the maiden edition of this report on assessing child rights through the period, Shri Rakesh Ranjan said, “The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development represents the highest aspirations for a bright future for the world’s children and serves as the blueprint for creating the world that children need and are demanding. Data and evidence on progress of child rights will play a crucial role in enabling the success of such government run programmes. I complement Bal Raksha Bharat for bringing out the TRAC report which not only highlights the issues that concern children in India, through their own voices but also mentions the efforts by the Central & State Governments to improve the future of Children in India.”

Dr Shekhar Seshadri (Former Director NIMHANS and Advisor SAMVAD), commented, “Child Mental Health lies not in textbooks of Psychiatry, but out there in the community, in the streets, in homes and families…in child care institutions and schools…in books, music and the theatre of everyday life”.

Key finding from the primary data collection reflects that of the surveyed children, one in two children used avoidant coping (52.7%), and problem-focused coping (51.0%) often/more often, followed by using emotion-focused coping (43.3%) mechanism. The most commonly used coping strategies were religious coping, which was practiced more among rural adolescents compared to urban settings.

The key trends highlighted by the secondary literature review across different states highlights: onset of new mental health concerns and worsening of pre-existing mental health conditions among children, disproportionate effect of COVID-19 on children from disadvantaged groups, excessive burden on healthcare infrastructure resulted in neglect of psychiatric needs, among others.

Deepak Kapoor, Chairperson, Bal Raksha Bharat, thanked all stakeholders for coming together to prepare this report and said, “We take this opportunity to appreciate the consistent and successful efforts of the Government of India, and all the critical development actors, to uphold the rights of the children of India amidst the pandemic. Bal Raksha Bharat is honoured to bring to you the first issue of TRAC report with findings, and are confident that this report will help in setting appropriate policies and programmes, and deepen discourse of mental wellbeing, and action to ensure a safe, dignified and happy future for all children of India.”

This report is appreciative of the government initiatives taken up amid COVID-19 and post pandemic to address the mental and psychosocial well-being of children. This includes the initiative by Ministry of Women and Child Development, with the tele-counselling helpline for children through SAMVEDNA (Sensitizing Action on Mental Health Vulnerability through Emotional Development and Necessary Acceptance) and MANODARPAN by Ministry of Education, a web portal covering wide range of activities to provide psychosocial support including a national toll-free helpline number for students.

The report also has findings from primary data collected from 15 states across the four pillars of child rights, along with secondary data analysis on budgetary, programme and policy trends on children’s agenda.

About Bal Raksha Bharat
Bal Raksha Bharat works across 18 states of India on issues related to education, health, protection, and humanitarian/DRR needs of children, especially for those who are the most deprived and marginalized. Visit www.savethechildren.in for more information.

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Geeta Lama

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