95% of young people in Assam suffer from mental health issues, UNICEF study finds, explains why


Around 95% of young people in Assam have suffered from mental health problems (representational)


An estimated 95% of young people in Assam have suffered mental health problems resulting from cyberbullying and corporal punishment, a survey conducted by UNICEF and the National Service Scheme (NSS) has revealed.

Currently, 19% of Assam’s 3.1 crore population (2011 census) falls within the age bracket of 15-24 years.

Nearly 60% of young people surveyed said it impacted their social relationships, with 24% leading to stress, anxiety and fear, and 17% reporting physical injury, according to the report. .

The U-Report poll, launched in July this year, was developed to support the Assam State Commission for the Protection of Child Rights (ASCPCR) campaign called Suraksha, aimed at raising public awareness forms of violence against children and redress mechanisms.

U-Report is a social platform created by UNICEF, available via SMS, Facebook and Twitter, where young people express their opinion.

Mythili Hazarika, Associate Professor, Department of Clinical Psychology, Gauhati Medical College Hospital, said cyberbullying has become common in recent years as the presence of young people in the digital space has increased dramatically, even leading to death by suicide in some. case.

“Social distancing, feelings of helplessness, anxiety, depression and loneliness are common manifestations. The victim often believes that it is his fault which leads to psychological problems. It is important that the victim report the matter to their immediate family. and take legal action, Ms Hazarika told Press Trust of India.

Archana Borthakur, social activist and counsellor, told Press Trust of India that trolling in cyberspace as well as corporal punishment can have a lifelong effect on the mental health of young people and they should immediately speak to police, advisers and also seek legal help.

As many as 9,500 NSS volunteers from 24 universities and educational institutions across the state took part in the cyberbullying and corporal punishment survey and its results were released on Sunday.

Half of young people said they had been bullied online by a stranger, 12% by a classmate and 14% by a friend.

Facebook was identified by 36% of young people as the most common social platform for being bullied, followed by Instagram at 25%.

Spreading lies, embarrassing photos or videos on social media (35%) were the most common forms of bullying, with physical appearance being the most common reason for being bullied online.

According to the survey, 35% of young people have experienced corporal punishment at home, 25% at school, 14% in other spaces such as private lessons and sports fields. Twenty-six percent have experienced it in all three settings.

The most common form of punishment was being hit or slapped on the hand, arm or leg (67%), followed by shouting or verbal abuse (16%).

Awareness of redress mechanisms was known to 68% of volunteers, with 57% recognizing Assam Police as the most popular support system available.

“Given the push of the Government of Assam to create an enabling environment for young people to grow and thrive, UNICEF Assam is working with them, especially those in the most vulnerable communities,” said Madhulika Jonathan, Head of UNICEF Assam.

In 2020-2021, the NSS North East Region Directorate and UNICEF Assam have partnered to work on the issue of child protection in the eight states under a mandate of one national partnership between Ministry of Youth and Sports and UNICEF India.

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