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Caution, care for kids battling abandonment in isolation at CCIs

Caution, care for kids battling abandonment in isolation at CCIs

New Delhi: In the last one and a half years of the pandemic here, a wave of mental trauma has enveloped children who are having to battle the virus and take precautions inside Child Care Institutions in Delhi. Most children end up spending the first few days in isolation where, for lack of an ability to express their emotions, they end up acting out in various ways.

However, the Delhi Government has focussed on regular counselling and engaging them in various co-curricular activities like paintings, watching happy movies, games, play therapy.

A psychologist working with children in CCIs said, "At the time of distress, a person can share his feeling with another person that he or she is in pain. But this is not the case with children, they don't have this vocabulary, they express their feelings through crying, getting angry, fighting with another person that they don't want to live in isolation."

"Look, they are children and they are cut off from the outside world. I can say I am not well but children don't have the same vocabulary. They show their anxiety in different ways and we have to engage with them," the mental health professional said.

Paintings depict the state of minds of these children. "If they are making minor or small figures, it shows they are depressed. If they are making happy faces, sun, rainbows then it will show that there is hope," the official said. They miss out on relationships a lot, they want to be close with somebody and it is also reflected in their paintings like making family pictures.

Various activities with children play an important role during times of distress. "How can we engage them? There are several ways we have used which include paintings, awareness videos, games, play therapy. We also work with caretakers who are there with these children so that they can understand the anxiety of children," the official said.

The most important thing is to spend time with these children.

"When a child breaks down it will impact other children and at that time crisis intervention plays an important role. How you can be available for them through regular telephonic calls. They often say aap to ghar pe baithe hain aap ko kya pata (you are sitting at home, you don't know what's happening) but we have to ensure that the counsellors are available 24*7 for them," the official said.

Because of the abandonment issues, children come from various backgrounds as they come from dysfunctional families, already abused or run away and the isolation pushes them towards more anxiety.

In the beginning, these children had limited knowledge, they feared isolation. "We created awareness about the pandemic, isolation period, why there is a need for isolation. It took long sessions for counselling," said Dr Monica Kumar, Clinical Psychologist from Manas.

Authorities also engage with children by showing them happy movies and then talk about what they feel about the movie. "We only show them movies that are inspirational, have good outcomes and most important which have interpretation by the end of it," the official said.

A Delhi government official further said through paintings, dance, music, taekwondo etc are some of the activities through which the energies of children are channelised in creative art expressions.

Till May 13, more than 2,900 children were living across 26 government-run and 75 NGO-run CCIs in the city, with a majority of the children (2,200) living in NGO-run CCIs.

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