by The Welthi Bureau | 01 MAR 2018
The isolation of children, being withdrawn and not interacting must not be taken as signs of aloofness warn paediatricians as they state that there could be major underlying mental conditions which would be causing this behaviour.
In the latest guidelines released by American Association of Paediatrics the children must be evaluated for depression from the age of 12 years as early intervention can help to deal with these unprecedented deaths.
Dr Preeti Sharma, senior paediatrician explained, “The age of 12 years has been fixed as the changes in the child begin from this age. Hence it means that from 12 year onwards when school teachers find that the child is withdrawn, not socializing, grades are falling and there are problems of attention then the child must be observed. If the behaviours are found to continue for more than two weeks then parents must be informed and psychological counselling carried out.”
The reason for the screening of teens has been stress by AAP is because of the increasing incidence of suicides in students. There is an underlying mental condition which has not been addressed and that is the reason for the feeling of hopelessness in the end stage.
Dr Satish Ghanta, senior paediatrician explained, “The AAP has been deliberating on this issue for over two years as there have been paediatricians from across the world that children’s mental health must be screened. The need to do this is because a decade later or maybe in their early 30’s we find that their mental conditions are causing problems in their life. Hence it is not only physical health but also mental health which must be assessed and help provided.”
But is it possible to screen so many children. Dr Ghanta says, “No it is not. We have recently created a questionnaire with the National Institute of Health and they have prepared 84 questions for parents and 82 for teachers. It’s an online submission. These answers are then evaluated by psychologists from the institute and only those who are vulnerable are called in for personal counselling. In the society, it is important to respect the markers and not make it very obvious hence it has to be carried out at the school level so that the society is not stigmatizing them.”
AAP in its guidelines has mentioned that these untreated mental problems are one of the causes for the problems at the adolescent age. Hence the most vulnerable group must be picked up early for early intervention. While one of the causes for suicide is depression, experts state that in most cases the students are not able to seek help and that continues to lead them towards the goal. The statistics show that India has the highest suicide rate among youth at 35.5 per 1,00,000 people. Most of them are in the age-group of 15 to 29 years.
Other socio-economic reasons, academic pressures, workplace stress, social pressures and relationship concerns can’t be ruled out as they further aggravate the mental stress.
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