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General News of Thursday, 18 November 2021


One in every 6 children depressed - UNICEF


The United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) has raised concerns over the future of Nigerian children, their state of mental health that ought to increase their chances and ability to compete favourably for global opportunities.

UNICEF in the report of its new survey conducted in conjunction with Gallup, entitled: "The Changing Childhood Project,” indicated that Nigerian children and young adults are increasingly under the most pressure to succeed globally even with limited opportunities and support from the government.

The report, which was released to commemorate the 2021 World Children’s Day, marked annually on November 20, was the first of its kind to ask multiple generations for their views on what it is like to be a child in today’s world.

It noted that more than 21,000 adults and children were interviewed in 21 countries between February and June 2021, and collated samples are probability-based and nationally representative of two distinct populations in each country: people aged 15-24 and people aged 40 and older.

It said the coverage area was the entire country, including rural areas, and the sampling frame represents the entire civilian, non-institutionalised, population within each age cohort with access to a telephone.

The countries surveyed are Argentina, Bangladesh, Brazil, Cameroon, Ethiopia, France, Germany, Japan, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Lebanon, Mali, Morocco, Nigeria, Peru, Spain, United Kingdom, Ukraine, USA and Zimbabwe.

Data from the survey revealed that young people in Nigeria are increasingly facing mental health challenges, with one in six young Nigerians aged 15 -24 saying they feel depressed with little interest in doing things, worried, nervous or anxious.

The survey conducted during the COVID-19 pandemic further examined young people’s opinions about their mental health, worldview, trust in institutions, the importance of equality, climate change, and digital benefits and risks, among others.

Findings from the survey showed that young Nigerians are more concerned than young people in any other country surveyed about personal information being collected and shared online, at 72 per cent.

The next highest are young people in Indonesia, at 63 per cent, and Kenya, at 54 per cent.

Similarly, children and young people in Nigeria also showed high levels of concern about the risks of meeting someone in person after meeting them online, at 84 per cent, slightly higher than children in the United States (81 per cent) and Brazil (82 per cent).

In the area of finances, young Nigerians again showed a high level of concern, with 74 per cent of females and 66 per cent of males worried they don’t have enough money for food.

UNICEF Nigeria Representative, Peter Hawkins, in his reactions noted that children and young people in Nigeria clearly have a high level of concern about many and varied issues, compared to their peers in other countries.

He said: “We cannot bury our heads in the sand and hope these concerns will go away. We need to take action, and the first step is to solicit their views, listen closely and allow their concerns and ideas to influence our policy decisions.”

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