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‘Why Adventurous Children Have Better Mental Health’

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A new research has observed that children who spend more time playing adventurously have lower symptoms of anxiety and depression and were happier over the first COVID-19 lockdown.
The study led by researchers in the University of Exeter and published in Child Psychiatry and Human Development in 2022 , comes at a time when today’s children have fewer opportunities for adventurous play out of sight of adults, such as climbing trees, riding bikes, jumping from high surfaces or playing somewhere they are out of adult sight. The study sought to test theories that adventurous play offers learning opportunities that help build resilience in children, thereby helping to prevent mental health problems.
The research team which was made up of Helen  Dodd, Rachel Nesbit and Lily FitzGibbon  surveyed nearly 2,500 parents of children aged 5-11 years. Parents completed questions  about their child’s play, their general mental health (pre COVID) and their mood during the first COVID -19.
The result was that, children who spend more time playing outside had fewer ‘’internalising problems ‘’, characterised as anxiety and depression. Those children were also more positive during the first lockdown.
The study also found out that the effect was more pronounced in children from lower income families than those growing up in higher income households.
Professor of Child Psychology at the University of Exeter, Helen Dodd, who led the study noted that, ‘’we are more concerned than ever about children’s mental health by ensuring they have plentiful opportunities for adventurous play. This is really positive because play is free, instinctive and rewarding for children, available for everyone and doesn’t require special skills. We now urgently need to invest in and protect natural space, well – designed parks and adventurous play grounds to support the mental health of our children,’’ she explained.
Also, Director of United Kingdom Impact At Save The Children, Dan Paskins, stated that “every child needs and deserves opportunities to play. This important research shows that this is even more vital to help children thrive after all they missed out on during the COVID -19 restrictions. More play means more happiness and less anxiety and depression.’’
Welcoming the findings, Chief Executive of Play Board  NI, Jacqueline O’Loughin, said,’’this research emphasises the importance of adventurous play.
Children and young people need freedom and opportunities to encounter challenge and risk in their everyday playful adventures. It is clear from the research findings that playing,taking risks and experiencing excitement outdoors make a positive contribution to children ‘s mental health and emotional well being. The reward of allowing children to self – regulate and manage challenge in their play are widespread and far- reaching.
Adventurous play helps children to build the resilience needed to cope with and manage stress in challenging circumstances,’’ she added.
Also, in a statement by United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF), on how  play strengthens children’s mental  health, the body noted that, ‘’playful moments are essential in our little one’s emotional well being. Play is how young children learn and make sense of the  world around them. While they are having fun, they are working on critical parts of their development like building motor,cognitive,social and emotional skills. The power of play extends beyond early learning,it also plays a key role in building children’s mental health and parents too. Children who play regularly with their parents are less likely to develop anxiety, depression, aggression  and sleep problems,’’it stated.

By: Ibinabo Ogolo with Agency Report

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‘If I Become Leader Of Nigeria …’ 

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As a future leader of Nigeria,there are many things I can do to develop my country . There is a saying which says,”Before you can solve a problem,you have to first identify the problem “. So, there are numerous things I can do for the country to close the lengthened gaps in other to bring in advancement and development like in other countries.
The things I can do by God’s grace, will include ensuring that the lives and property of citizens are well secured and safe,therefore making sure that military,paramilitary personnel are well trained and for the job.
I will also make sure that our educational system is properly modernised and I will ensure that education is not expensive for the masses,making at least 95 percent of the people in the country to be educated.
Also, I would bring about economic stability and never give room for economic recession but improve the value of our currency (Naira). Monopoly of the economy will be removed by having both agriculture and crude oil in view.
I will also make sure that we have a stable and convenient political environment, ensuring that democracy is well practised in the nation, thereby eroding corruption and corruptionists during elections.
Another area, I will work on is transportation,to be safe for citizens,especially those that are trading (buying and selling ).
Other predominant things I will do is to ensure peaceful co- existence among people.  Everyone should be treated equally, whether rich or poor, there should be no room for injustice. Employment for youths and young adults should be key so that they can have a means of survival in society.  And also peace among ethnic groups and organi-sations.
All these and more are what I will do  if I become a leader of Nigeria.

By: Wisdom God’swork

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World Children’s Day: Creating A Better World For Children 

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Sunday, 20th November, 2022 is World Children’s  Day. First established as Universal Children’s Day in 1954, it is a day to promote international togetherness, awareness among children worldwide and improving children’s welfare.
This year’s theme is, “Inclusion, for every child”. It aims to empower children to call for a better future and a more equal, inclusive world.
World Children’s Day is United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund’s (UNICEF) annual day of action for children by children.
It is a day to discuss and evaluate issues affecting children, from climate change, education and mental health, to ending racism and discrimination. Children and young people are however, raising their voices on the issues that matter to their generation and calling for adults to create a better future.
According to UNICEF, “World Children’s Day offers each of us an inspirational entry point to advocate, promote and celebrate children’s rights, translating into dialogues and actions that would build a better world for children, adding that, mothers, fathers, teachers, nurses and doctors, government leaders and civil society activists, religious and community elders, corporate mogule and media professionals as well as young people and children themselves can play an important part in making World Children’s Day relevant for their societies, communities and nations.
“On 20 November, Children all over the world will  stand up for a more equal, inclusive world, UNICEF said.
November 20, 1959 was the day the United Nations (UN) General Assembly adopted the Declaration of the Rights of the Child. In 1989, the UN General Assembly adopted the convention on the Rights of the Child.
Since 1990, World Children’s Day also marks the anniversary of the date that the UN General Assembly adopted both the Declaration and Convention on Children’s rights.
The very first World Children’s Day was celebrated in 1954 and it was decided that this day will be celebrated on the 20th of November every year. It also marks the anniversary of the declaration and convention of Children’s rights by the UN General Assembly. Though World Children’s Day is celebrated on the 20th of November, different countries have different dates for their celebration.
The UN General assembly decided to celebrate this day in order to bring the children of all castes, creeds and races together. Their main aim is the welfare of children all over the world. It has been 66 years since the first World Children’s Day was celebrated and the UN General Assembly has promoted a number of causes such as HIV, Education of Children and many more.
On the occasion of the 31st World Children’s Day that was 20th November 1989, the UN General Assembly signed a treaty with the aim of protecting the civil, health, social, economic, health, political and cultural rights of children all around the globe.
World Children’s Day is important because it is an integral part of the work carried out by UNICEF to increase knowledge about the well-being of children in and around the world.
It is known to everyone that children are the future of the world, they are going to be essential that they get proper education, care and benefits in the present which is the aim behind celebrating World Children’s Day.
An important reason behind celebrating World Children’s Day every year is protecting the rights of children. Unlike adults, children cannot fight for their rights, so it becomes the duty of adults to protect them. The UN has signed many treaties and agreements to ensure that each and every child gets proper education, health care, protection from any form of violence and discrimination.
Children from an inferior financial system face a lot of problems in their life such as financial problems or healthcare problems and there is not enough conversation about it. This day is an effort to make people aware of these problems and not overlook them, instead take some steps to eradicate them.
Here are some countries that celebrate the Children’s Day on the mentioned dates:-
Argentina celebrates on second Sunday of August.
Brazil celebrates on 12th October.
India celebrates on 14th November.
Japan celebrates on 5th May
Nigeria  celebrates on 27th May.
Paraguay celebrates on 16th August .
China celebrates on 1st June
South Korea celebrate on 1st May.
Singapore celebrates on 1st October .
Sri Lanka celebrates on 1st October.
Taiwan  celebrates on 4th April.
Thailand celebrates on the second Saturday of January.
Turkey celebrate on 23rd April
Venezuela celebrates on third Sunday of July.

By: Ibinabo Ogolo

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 Depression: Need For Early Screening Of Children

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There are strong recommendations that children between the ages of eight and above be screened for anxiety. This is because it provides the opportunity for early detection and intervention since an untreated anxiety disorder is associated with a higher change of anxiety, depression, substance abuse and suicidal ideation later in life.
The recommendation recently came from United States Preventive Services Task Force, an independent panel of health experts set up to screen children who are not showing any signs or symptoms of mental health problem.
The Task Force had mandated paediatricians to screen children as young as 8 for anxiety and children 12 and above for depression during routine checks.
The health panel’s new guidance represented a final set of recommendations for mental health screening for children. This is consistent with the groups draft recommendation that was released in April this year.
According to reports, the screenings are not meant to diagnose a child with either anxiety or depression, they are meant to identify those who may need extra support in mental health care.
“This is the first time that the task force has put forth a recommendation about anxiety screening in young people,” says Dr. Martha Kubik, a member of the task force and a professor in the School of Nursing in the College of Health and Human Services at George Mason University. She said there was strong evidence for anxiety screenings in children even without symptoms.
There was also substantial evidence anxiety can be successfully treated in young people, once it is identified
”We had a really strong, very robust evidence base looking at treatment for anxiety in young people, and specifically psychotherapy and cognitive behavioral therapy.There’s a very well-established evidence base that supports its effectiveness in treating young people with anxiety,”she asserted.
Also, a child and adolescent psychologist at Children’s Hospital Colorado ,Jenna Glover applauded the recommendations as a positive step foward, saying that, “ This is a way where we can get ahead of the ongoing mental health crisis to identify these  children and get them hooked into service. We know that early intervention really is the key to better outcome”.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), between 2016 and 2019, about 9.4% of children between the ages of 3 and 17 experienced anxiety, and 4.4% have been challenged by depression. Those numbers have been rising over the past decade. As Ilan Shapiro, MD, Chief Health Correspondent, and Medical Affairs Officer at AltaMed Health point out that children’s mental health has become an even more pressing issue since the pandemic.
“Sadly, just as parents have experienced toxic stress during the pandemic, children have as well.
“But the difference is that young children don’t have tools to protect themselves from all the feelings and experiences that adults have. This is one of the reasons I  think these new recommendations are important, and why taking a preventative approach to children’s mental health is imperative.
“If we can screen youth for anxiety and depression early on, we can understand what is impacting our patients and help them. This is crucial to the health of future generations.
“It’s so important to understand the gravity of what’s happening among our children and be able to act upon it,” Dr. Shapiro said.
In another vein,Dr. Teresa  Hsu-Walklet, Assistant Director of the Pediatric Behavioral Health Integration program at Montefiore Medical Group emphasized that certain youth are more vulnerable to mental health challenges than others like children from historically marginalised communities ,” she explained.
“Normalising mental health through screening is a great way to increase the likelihood that these families will receive proper treatment.Young children may not always understand their emotions, so doctors have several standardised questionnaires they can use to screen children for anxiety and depression, such as the Screen for Child Anxiety Related Disorders and what’s called the PHQ-9 questionnaire”, she further said.
However, the task force aim to separate children who are having a rough couple of days from those who are experiencing ongoing and excessive mental health issues that disrupt their daily activities, such as going to school or attending birthday parties and other social events.
Anxiety and depression have been growing in young people for years. A study released in February found that 1 in 5 teenagers had experienced an episode of major depression, even before the Covid pandemic hit. A second report found that emergency room visits related to children’s mental health rose dramatically in 2020, compared with 2019.
“Our hope is that by putting these recommendations forward, that they will help to really bring awareness to the need for greater access to evidence-based mental health care for children and adolescents,” Pbert said.
The task force did not find enough scientific evidence to support screening for suicidal thoughts in children of any age, and called for more research in this area. The issue is especially important, as suicide rates are once again rising.
A September report from the National Center for Health Statistics found that young men ages 15 to 24 are at highest risk of suicide compared to any other groups. And though the overall numbers were small, the percentage of girls ages 10 to 14 dying by suicide rose 16% from 2020 to 2021.
According to experts, certain level of anxiety or sadness is common and even normal in children. Having to do a math problem in front of the class, for example, can lead to a fleeting sense of anxiety.
But Pbert said that true mental health problems in children can result in excessive behavior changes.
Some of the ways to identify anxiety or depression in children include, refusal to attend school or social events, ongoing feelings of hopelessness, a concerning uptick in headaches and stomach aches.
Sometimes, however, “children and teens keep their worries to themselves, so symptoms can be missed,” she said. “That’s why it’s so important that we screen children in primary care.”
“We’re not catching these children early. It is getting more severe and it’s getting to the point of crisis,” Glover said. “They’re engaged in aggressive behavior or severe eating disorder behavior, and they’re showing up in the emergency department.
“Had we caught them earlier, we could have been able to treat them on an outpatient basis,” she said.

By: Ibinabo Ogolo with Agency Report

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