The COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting countrywide lockdown have had an impact on every facet of our social and economic lives. Given the magnitude of the situation in India, the consequences of interrupted reproductive healthcare and their impact on mental health must be thoroughly investigated among India’s youth. Adolescents, who make up nearly one-fifth of the population, confront educational uncertainty, constraints on their mobility, freedom, and socialization, an increase in household chores and conflict, and concerns about their employment prospects.
According to the research, as the COVID-19 Pandemic enters its third year, the impact on children and young people’s mental health continues to be considerable. Due to lockdown measures, children have had restricted access to social services during the outbreak. Because of disturbances in their routines, education, and recreation, as well as concerns about family income and health, many young people are afraid, frustrated, and concerned about their future. Several young employees lost their jobs due to cost-cutting by companies that were trying to sustain themselves. Getting new jobs at the desired salary also became increasingly difficult thereby financially crippling many youngsters. The impact on the school and college-going children was no less. Between 2020 and 2021, nearly 286 million children up to the sixth grade in India were out of school, according to UNESCO figures. Only 60% of children could access digital classrooms, according to UNICEF’s quick evaluation in 2021. Many students would be unable to complete their studies.
Children’s futures in India are compromised as a result of the pandemic’s loss of schooling. Child labor and child marriage are issues that arise, particularly for young girls. Due to the suspension of their education, these children are now accompanying their parents to work in the fields. Many students rely on the school to provide them with protein-rich meals that they would otherwise be unable to obtain.
In order to understand the coping mechanisms of young Indians to these abrupt changes, a study was conducted by the Population Foundation of India. Young people in India were highly aware of COVID-19, its symptoms, care, and safety precautions, according to the study, but they still faced various barriers to reproductive health and mental well-being. During the lockdown in Uttar Pradesh, 68% of respondents said they used social media more. Social media use is considerably greater among individuals who said they were depressed, which was at 92%. Due to COVID-19, 6 out of 10 students expressed concern about their capacity to obtain work. During the lockdown, one out of every four young people in UP suffered from depression. The increase in their workload of domestic tasks was one of the main obstacles that young people faced during the nationwide lockdown (42%).
It is necessary to expand the delivery of mental healthcare services through formal and skilled channels. The increased demand and use of such services by youth must be addressed. Funding that prioritizes education and recognizes its value in the international community could help to encourage youth re-enrollment in school.