Dr. Arif: Children are not immune to mental health problems

IGMH psychiatrist Dr. Mohamed Arif at the National Emergency Operations Center press briefing on April 29, 2020. (Photo/NEOC)

IGMH psychiatrist Dr. Mohamed Arif, on Tuesday, said the drastic change in lifestyle including home confinement amid the COVID-19 pandemic gave rise to mental health issues not just among adults, but also children.

Health experts have warned of a significant rise in mental health issues since the lockdown on the Greater Male’ Region, which has confined roughly one-third of the Maldivian population to their homes.

At the National Emergency Operations Center press briefing on Tuesday, Dr. Arif said that the assertion that children were immune to mental health issues was a common misconception.

Children exhibit their fear and anxiety a different way, he said.

“With the closure of schools, children are not on their regular schedule. [This gives rise to] behavioral problems, difficulty sleeping and many other difficulties,” said Dr. Arif.

He asked for parents to be watchful of such signs.

“We need to engage children in conversations more. We need to listen to children. We need to encourage children. We need to include them in activities. And we need to explain to them the importance of such matters in an age appropriate manner,” said Dr. Arif.

He said that children should be given extra attention and care amid the current situation.

615 people had sought medical attention for mental health issues in March – double the numbers during the same period last year.