Mental and emotional health of children and adolescents

The mental and physical health of students must be looked after.

In Colombia, 50% of middle school students said that they felt sad sometimes or always, on the PISA 2018 tests.

At times of confinement and uncertainty, young people’s negative emotions can be exacerbated. Quarantines pose needs for care and affection, so it is essential to take preventive measures.

Bogotá, May 26, 2020 The Economics of Education Laboratory (LEE) conducted a statistical analysis on the state of mental and emotional health of Colombian students before the pandemic and confinement, taking the information reported by 15-year-old students in the PISA 2018 tests, on the emotions they often feel.

 

In relation to negative emotions, 50% of Colombian students say that they sometimes or always feel sad, 59% feel worried, and 38% feel afraid. As for positive emotions, the percentage of Colombian students who indicated they were sometimes or always happy and proud, is 93% and 72%, respectively. While there is a high percentage of students who often have positive emotions, the 50% of students with negative emotions should not be ignored.

 

One of the negative effects of the confinement, which has been in place for over a month to prevent the spread of COVID-19, is the effect on the mental and emotional health of children and adolescents. During the quarantine, symptoms of depression such as hopelessness, irritability, changes in appetite or sleep disorders may appear (Spanish Society of Psychiatry, 2020). One of the triggers will be that the attention of parents or caregivers will not be on child care, but on concern for their jobs and the supply of food (Spanish Society of Psychiatry, 2020).

 

LEE’s analysis provides an overview of how Colombian students were doing before the pandemic. The next step will be to take measures to avoid the detriment of mental and emotional health.

 

Some of LEE’s recommendations regarding student mental and emotional health, within the framework of COVID-19, are:

 

Provide professional support for students who report or show any symptoms of mental illness or emotional imbalance.

Offer crisis management training for teachers and school officials or, once classes resume, provide spaces to reflect on what has been learned and identify the importance of crises in order to get the best out of them.

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