Unicef: Not enough being done to address mental disorder in adolescents

Has your child lost interest in something he or she is passionate about? Is your teenager becoming more rebellious or withdrawn?

These could be signs of loneliness or depression, evident among many children and adolescents over the past two years as the world is forced to undergo lockdowns due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Unicef, in its recently published report ‘The State of the World’s Children 2021’, highlighted that an estimated 13 per cent of adolescents aged 10-19, suffered from a diagnosed mental disorder.

The world body noted that even before the pandemic, psychosocial distress and poor mental health afflicted many children.

According to a Unicef and Gallup global survey, roughly one in five young people aged 15-24 in 21 countries, said they often felt depressed or had little interest in doing things. The survey was part of the forthcoming Changing Childhood project.

Those most at risk included the millions forced from their homes, scarred by conflict and serious adversity, and deprived of access to schooling, protection, and support.

Unicef said the pandemic showed that children’s and adolescents’ mental health is profoundly affected by their surroundings and circumstances – their experiences with parents and caregivers, their friendships, and how they play, learn, and grow.

“Despite all this, governments and societies are investing far too little in promoting, protecting and caring for the mental health of children, young people and their caregivers,” Unicef said in its report.

“We pay a high economic price for this neglect – around US$387.2 billion worth of lost human potential that could go towards national economies each year. The cost in terms of how it affects real lives, however, is incalculable.”

Following the release of the report, Unicef Malaysia will tomorrow hold a virtual dialogue, ‘Breaking the Silence’, focusing on mental health among children.

The three panellists invited for the event are Unicef Representative to Malaysia and Special Representative to Brunei, Dr Rashed Mustafa Sarwar, youth advocate on mental health, S. Vaismita, and International Counselling Association of Malaysia president, Datuk Dr Abdul Halim Hussin.

The dialogue aims to discuss the need to strengthen access to mental health services, especially in schools.

Unicef also provided tips and resources for parents and young people regarding mental health.

If you are a parent, click here on how to talk to your child about mental health. For young people, click here for tips on reaching out, providing support, and breaking the stigma around mental health.

Here are Twentytwo13’s news highlights today.


Air Selangor said work to improve and maintain critical assets at the Sungai Selangor Water Treatment Plant Phase 1 is scheduled to be completed tonight at 11pm.

However, water supply would be channelled in stages to consumers starting 5pm tomorrow. Water supply is expected to be fully restored on Oct 16 at 9pm.

“The duration of the water supply disruption and restoration to the affected areas will vary, depending on the location of the consumer’s premises, and the water pressure.”

A total of 998 areas in seven districts in the Klang Valley were without water supply this morning, following the scheduled water cut.


Homemaker Nor Sakinah Razelan, 31, was fined RM5,000 by the Kangar Sessions Court after she pleaded guilty to a charge of spreading false news on Covid-19 in April.

Judge Musyiri Peet meted out the fine to the mother of three, in default of five months’ jail.

She was charged under Section 4(1) of the Emergency (Essential Powers) (No. 2) Ordinance, 2021, for spreading false news via an instant messaging service in Kampung Belukar, Arau, Perlis, on April 18, at 10.31am.


The third dose and booster shots of the Covid-19 vaccine were given out to recipients, especially those in the high-risk group in Sarawak, starting today.

State Health deputy director (public health) Dr Rosemawati Ariffin said the third dose will be given to approximately 11,900 individuals who are immunocompromised, or have a weak immune system due to illness, treatment, or from taking certain types of medication.

The booster shots will be given to 80,300 senior citizens (aged 60 and above) and 30,340 medical frontliners. The third and booster shots are available at selected government health clinics, private hospitals, and clinics.

Meanwhile, the Comirnaty Covid-19 vaccine by Pfizer has been given conditional approval by the Drug Control Authority to be used as booster shots.


Pengkalan Batu assemblyman and former Melaka state executive councillor Datuk Norhizam Hassan Baktee’s official car – a black Toyota Camry – was seized by police at a condominium in Melaka yesterday.

This was after a police report was lodged by the Melaka state secretary’s office on Monday, stating that Norhizam had not returned the vehicle, bearing the registration number MAL 3, despite him relinquishing his post.

Norhizam was among the four state assemblymen who had on Oct 4, turned their backs on Melaka chief minister Datuk Seri Sulaiman Md Ali. The move resulted in the collapse of the state government. A state election is expected to be called soon.

Meanwhile, the Election Commission will hold a special meeting on Oct 18 to discuss the Melaka election.

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