Millennium Post

Children battling COVID-19 seek emotional support through govt helpline

Children battling COVID-19 seek emotional support through govt helpline

New Delhi: A 17-year-old was feeling very low and anxious after getting infected with COVID-19 and had trouble concentrating on his studies since he contracted the virus.

To address the emotional trauma he suffered, he reached out to the NCPCR's toll-free helpline number 1800-121-2830 for counselling and psycho-social support.

Over 400 such calls of children who suffered from coronavirus have been tackled by the NCPCR helpline since its inception in September, an official with the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) said.

The tele-counselling service aims to provide psychological first-aid and emotional support to children who are in quarantine or isolation or at COVID care centres, to those who have COVID positive parents or family members, or to children who have lost their parents due to COVID-19.

The boy said he has been facing certain anxiety issues. He reported that he found it difficult to get along with his parents and brother. He had not been able to concentrate on studies since the time he has returned, the official said.

The counsellors on the helpline first established a rapport with him and empathy was used and the child was made comfortable in talking about his problem, he said.

"The anxiety of the child was addressed. To address the physical symptoms to which he believed was a side effect of COVID, a small breathing exercise was done with him which brought him instant relief as reported by the child," he said.

"In the course of the session he also spoke about the loss of his grandfather which made him sad. To address the issue, he was recommended to write a letter to his grandfather," the official said.

In another case, a 17-year-old was diagnosed with COVID in the month of September and after she recovered she was diagnosed with dengue fever. This made her lose sleep.

"The child reported that COVID and dengue led to the problem of insomnia (sleeplessness). The counsellors taught the child some deep breathing techniques. The child was asked to take light food for supper," the official said.

The issue of not being able to sleep was addressed and the child was advised to practice breathing exercise twice a day for 10 minutes, he said.

The official said the helpline has counsellors who have been specially trained by the expert team of National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro-Sciences (NIMHANS) to address the needs of children in these difficult times.

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