Speakers at a recent seminar have highlighted the importance of children’s mental well-being and the need for future development. Considering that mental health is absent from the larger societal discourse, the seminar was a timely reminder to pay more attention to children’s psychological issues. This is particularly important because people suffering from mental illnesses do not seek treatment on time and receive little support from their families. Children are more vulnerable because they are unable to identify their symptoms until an older age when their state often worsens; and if children’s trauma is not treated in time, it can cause significant psychological problems in the long term.
By neglecting children’s mental well-being, we may be unconsciously brewing a culture of aggression, violence and detachment. Children who have been exposed to trauma at a young age have trouble controlling and expressing their emotions and can react inappropriately to different situations. Consequently, they struggle with academics, friendships and later in their professional lives as well as family lives. With the rapidly changing social dynamics, coupled with unlimited access to information and technology, today’s children are in a more precarious position. Children suffering from psychological conditions are more likely to fall prey to online groomers and traffickers and can take drastic measures i.e. suicide. Besides monitoring children’s online presence, parents and caretakers should look for signs of psychological issues.
Given that a significant proportion of Pakistani children are exposed to different forms of violence and traumas at a young age, both federal and provincial mental health authorities should work collaboratively with psychological institutes to intensify research and introduce early intervention measures in general healthcare to protect our children and prevent more complex issues.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 12th, 2022.