Hypertension: An emerging health problem amongst school children and adolescents

May 17 2021 06:17 AM
Hypertension: An emerging health problem amongst school children and adolescents

By PC THOMAS:  World Hypertension Day is observed on May 17 every year with an aim to raise awareness of increasing high blood pressure and to encourage citizens of all countries to prevent and control this silent killer.

Since the past one year, hypertension level is notably increasing worldwide because of covid-19 pandemic. According to research, approximately 75 percent of people with hypertension live in low-and middle-income countries.

The majority of people think of hypertension, as a condition that affects only older people. But the very fact is that high blood pressure actually affects people of all ages including young children. Now, more people experience high blood pressure in response to the coronavirus compared to before, according to a study.

However, it is obvious, hypertension in children due to the corona crisis is an emerging public health issue attracting the attention of medical professionals worldwide.  Therefore, this article deals with the suicidal tendencies of children on account of tension and insecurity among children which must be addressed.

It is shocking to read the report that about 70 children and teenagers under the age of 18 have committed suicide in Kerala last year after the nationwide lockdown was announced to contain COVID-19. Likewise, different states account for different numbers of suicide rates.  The root cause of the loss of life is mental imbalance or hypertension.

What is causing the adolescent's lives to be so hopeless that there is no ray of hope ahead in their life? Is it is because of the indefinite length of school opening or the inability to see their classmates and teachers, or is it mere loneliness or depressed state of mind? Or is based on the reason that parents rebuked children for not attending online class, or not allowed them online games or due to problems in families and substance abuse by parents?

Though the reasons for the suicides are varied,  it is believed that the lockdown has triggered emotional strain among children as they are not getting close together with their peers at school which remains closed in the wake of the pandemic. In addition, there may be declining interest in friends, activities, or hobbies previously enjoyed,  domestic issues, lack of parental concern, poor communication between parents and child, parent’s improper way of dealing with the errors committed, that pave the way in spiking the number of suicides among children. 

According to the latest survey conducted by Child Right and You (CRY), the lockdown period resulted in an increase in the relationship between children and parents. At the same time or in contrast, many parents report that their child became more nervous, anxious and short-tempered during the lockdown!

Obviously, due to lockdown, since children cannot go to school, or out of play, they are in tedious emotions and getting bored to tears.   Also, for many families, lack of money and too much debt experienced as the biggest financial constraints due to job losses etc during this time of Covid, which might have created a chance for more possible parent-children clashes.

However, raising serious concern over the matter, the Chief Minister of Kerala, last year itself, asked parents to ensure a happy and peaceful environment at homes by all means. He had asked them to take more care of the children who are now devoid of school or college friends.  The Student Police Cadet project launched a telephonic counseling programme called ‘CHIRI’ (Laugh) to provide relief to students facing mental pressure. The project is intended to strengthen students’ commitment towards their families and community along with enabling them to resist negative tendencies like substance abuse, deviant behavior, intolerance and other social evils.

Looking to the current complicated situation of children and families there are some schools that also have come up with online counseling sessions that help children cope up with the stress. Obviously, school and teachers can play a vital role as online schooling is on the way of new education.

In the light of the above situation, it is necessary that all state governments take the decision to investigate the cause of the child's suicide and provide tele-counseling for the needy to help tackle suicidal tendencies in children. Besides, it would also be a good idea for teachers to set aside some time between online classes to teach a lesson on improving mental health to children and parents as well. Let the children realise that life is not about ending yourself, it is about moving forward.

It is important for each one of us to focus on our health and our heart to keep hypertension away. Life is much better when we have a calm and composed heart and mind. Let us work towards stability and better health on World Hypertension Day.

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