Many children and young people have been plagued by anxiety, worry and depression due to feelings of insecurity during the Corona period. However, the family did not get as much importance as they should have. The mental condition of the children and youths who have been physically away from the educational institution for a long time has not been given much importance to the teachers.
Speakers at a roundtable meeting held at the Prothom Alo office at Karwan Bazar in the capital on Thursday highlighted the country’s mental health crisis. According to them, in order to increase the efficiency of children and youth in the changed situation, it is necessary to focus on area-based mental health services. In order to raise awareness by identifying mental problems as illnesses, para counselors should be appointed in the area.
The roundtable meeting titled ‘Development of Community-Based Mental Health Services for Children and Youth in Covid-North Bangladesh’ was organized by ADD International Bangladesh, Nasirullah Psychotherapy Unit of Dhaka University and Prothom Alo. In collaboration were the Innovation for Wellbeing Foundation and the Disabled Child Foundation.
According to a roundtable meeting conducted by the organizing organizations under the Mental Health Assistance Project for Children and Youth, 84 percent of children and young people with mental health problems have not received any treatment. Most people with mental health problems and family members do not know where to find treatment for mental health problems in their area. Fifty-five percent of students said Covid disrupted their education. Twenty-five percent said Covid has affected their lives. In the survey conducted in October-November last year, 1,600 people aged 5 to 30 took part in 4 wards of Dhaka City Corporation area, 4 wards and one Union Parishad of Jessore City Corporation and 4 Union Parishads of Bagerhat district. As well as talking to an equal number of parents.
Kamal Chowdhury, Project Director, Nasirullah Psychotherapy Unit, Dhaka University and Professor, Department of Clinical Psychology, presented the keynote address and survey report. He said there is one doctor for 30,000 mental patients in the country. Less than 1 percent of the health budget is allocated to the mental health sector. Creating more mental health workers will strike a balance between demand and service. The inequality caused by the Corona epidemic in society has created weakness among the people. It has a negative impact on mental health.
In the speech of the guest of honor, the Additional Secretary of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (Development Division) said. Saidur Rahman said, there is a kind of negative attitude in the society and family about mental problems. The families try to solve the problem themselves without going to the doctor as long as possible. We need to formulate our own strategies with the importance of protecting the mental health of the child from the family. The government plans to increase manpower in mental health care.
Participating in the discussion, Prof. Robed Amin, Line Director (Non-Communicable Disease Control Program) of the Department of Health, said that it is important to work with the prevention of mental problems. And this resistance has to start from the family level. The problem will not be solved until the mental problem is included in the primary health care. Model projects will be taken up in two upazila and district hospitals with emphasis on mental health.
Shafiqul Islam, Country Director of ADD International Bangladesh presided over the function. He said the country has all the legal and strategic tools and preparations needed to work with mental health. Mental health needs to be seen in a larger context. Effective initiatives need to be taken to find out what steps will be taken in any context.
Mekhla Sarkar, an associate professor at the National Institute of Mental Health, noted that the effects of inequality and inequality on mental health have become clearer over time. He said that due to Kovid, children and teenagers will not have the skills to adapt to the changed situation. So the family and the society should help these children to grow properly without any discrimination and go to the doctor after identifying their mental problems.
Hasina Mumtaz, National Consultant (Mental Health) of the World Health Organization, Bangladesh, said investment in mental health needs to be increased and people need to be made aware of it.
Morsheda Chowdhury, director of BRAC’s Health Nutrition and Population Program, said area-wise ‘para counselors’ could be appointed in the medium-term by the public-private sector to fill the shortage of skilled physicians and psychiatrists according to the mental patient. These para counselors will tell people where to go for psychiatric treatment and to whom.
Participating in the discussion, Professor Jobeda Khatun, Chairperson of the Department of Clinical Psychology, Dhaka University, said that parents are not able to identify the needs that are needed for mental development. On the other hand, the educational institutions have opened, creating pressure on the students to study before they understand anything. Teachers also need to be sensitive so that students can adapt to the situation.
Monira Rahman, executive director of the Innovation for Wellbeing Foundation, said people in the community need to be motivated to seek the help of professionals in mental health care through various model projects.
Nasreen Jahan, executive director of the Disabled Child Foundation, said every child in the family needs to be assessed equally so that he or she can grow up with mental well-being.
Speaking on the occasion, Abdul Qayyum, Associate Editor, Prothom Alo, said, “Anxiety and worry are increasing day by day in our daily life, which is causing mental ill health. Problems have increased during the Corona period.
Nasreen, a participant from Jessore, Rafiq Mridha, a member of the Mukti Disability Welfare Organization from Dhaka, and Shirin Akhtar, a member of the Disabled Child Foundation, described their experiences working on mental health issues. Prothom Alo Assistant Editor Firoz Chowdhury conducted the program.