THD NewsDesk, Jaipur: A Rapid Action Study conducted on the young population of Rajasthan, Bihar, and Uttar Pradesh reported a decline in the mental and reproductive health amid the coronavirus instigated lockdown.
The study was conducted by an NGO called ‘Population Foundation of India Across Rajasthan, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh’ in May 2020. Interviews were conducted with people from the age groups of 15 to 24. The main objective was to assess the mental health of the young population in the aforementioned three states.
The Joint Secretary of Reproductive and Child Health, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India, Dr. Manohar Agnani concurs for an age group that is especially considered to be the healthiest amongst every other age groups has been suffering a lot from the consequences of the coronavirus pandemic resultant lockdown.
The study found a few important and alarming facts regarding the young population during the lockdown. According to Dr. Agnani,
“A small fraction of the total respondents reported feeling depressed, frustrated, and irritable. Interestingly, there was a coincidence whereby a greater number of those feeling depressed or frustrated and irritable also reported an uptick in their TV and social media consumption during the lockdown.”
FINDINGS OF THE STUDY-
According to the data released in the study-
- Two out of every 10 teenager feels depressed because of the lockdown in Rajasthan.
- Major contributing factors to this state of depression among young people are domestic conflicts and an increased workload.
- 35% of those who responded suggested an increase in household chores, almost 33% of adolescents in Rajasthan saw an increase in fights and brawls at home.
Living in a confined space for long spaces of time, in any case, leads to feelings of depression, to add to that an increased TV and social media usage has created a worrisome situation for the health of young people of the three states. The study states that,
“68% of respondents in Uttar Pradesh reported an increase in social media use during the lockdown. Of those reported feeling depressed, social media use is even higher at 92%. Six of 10 students responded that they felt anxiety regarding their ability to find jobs due to COVID-19.”
Due to the lockdown, many small and big businesses have gone bankrupt or shut down. The public sector is unable to offer new jobs, even those already employed have lost their jobs. In this situation, it is imperative for the youth to feel at sea in the declined job market and recessive economy. This leads to growing anxiety and depression among them.
Another problem faced by almost 73% of young females had difficulty acquiring sanitary pads during the lockdown due to restrictions on movement and lack of availability of the product. As Dr. Agnani said,
“We realize that there may have been an impact on access to commodities such as iron and folic acid tablets, contraceptives, sanitary pads, among other essential health services which we proactively issued guidelines for. We have also issued directions saying that all adolescent-friendly health clinics should function normally. The distribution of iron and folic acid tablets, sanitary napkins, and contraceptives should be ensured.”
In a different study by the same organization indicated that due to most of the resources being directed towards COVID-19 care, what is getting ignored is feminine healthcare, like 801 (271 boys, 530 girls) respondents in the states of Bihar, Rajasthan, and Uttar Pradesh indicated in the interviews held over the telephone. It said,
“Young people reported unmet needs for such services as the focus of India’s public health system shifted to managing and containing the pandemic,”
Another finding in the study indicated a disparity in the dissemination of COVID-19 related information between well- educated men who had the most information, poorly educated women with lesser information, and those belonging to the SC and ST who were the least aware of COVID-19 symptoms. Incidentally, Rajasthan is the only state among the three where schools have been working towards the relay of information regarding the pandemic.