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See how special children are beating lockdown blues

At Ranchi’s Central Institute of Psychiatry, recreational activities keep kids smiling
Children of Central Institute of Psychiatry take part in a cricket match during the lockdown in Ranchi.
Children of Central Institute of Psychiatry take part in a cricket match during the lockdown in Ranchi.
Picture courtesy CIP

Saurav Roy   |   Ranchi   |   Published 21.07.20, 09:39 PM

Thirteen-year-old Samarth (name changed) from Amritsar, suffering from bipolar disorder, was through with his treatment at the Central Institute of Psychiatry by the end of March. But he could not leave CIP for the next two months because of the nationwide lockdown in wake of the Covid-19 pandemic. 

Samarth, who had an early onset of the mental disorder and suffered from bouts of aggression and anxiety, resorted to gardening and making paper lanterns in order to cope with the lockdown blues. His psychotherapist at CIP, Sarah Hussain, said that involving Samarth in recreational activities was an effective way of helping him cope with the stress of remaining confined in a psychiatry institute, several hundred kilometres away from home while the entire country was locked down. 

At a time when the impact of the lockdown is disrupting the lives of several healthy adults across the globe, children undergoing treatment for mental disorders at CIP have not only overcome the stress of confinement but also utilised the lockdown period for learning and acing new skills.

Samarth was one of several such children, who overcame the crisis despite all odds. 

“Children suffering from mental disorders are particularly prone to relapses when exposed to difficult situations. The lockdown period was challenging for them, and it is inspiring how they have made their way through it,” said Dr Nishant Goyal, assistant professor of psychiatry at CIP. 

Six-year-old Riya (name changed) is autistic. She was also stranded at the institute due to the sudden imposition of lockdown. Originally from Jamshedpur, Riya stayed at CIP with her parents from the end of March till June and focused on making soap cakes. 

Like Riya, 11-year-old, Rahul (name changed), suffering from conduct disorder, utilised the lockdown by learning how to make and fly kites while he was stuck away from his home in Bihar's Samastipur district.

Doctors at CIP said that children suffering from mental disorders do not like to stay away from home for long. And keeping them interested in various activities for two months was a major challenge for the health workers and psychotherapists at the institute as children were running out of patience. 

“Around 24 such children, who were through their treatment, were stranded at the institute due to the lockdown. Their guardians, many of whom stayed with the patients at the institute, also participated in various activities to keep the lockdown blues at bay,” said Goyal. 

During this period, doctors at CIP held regular meetings with parents of the admitted children and informed them about the various developments related to Covid-19 pandemic. They were also guided for taking better care of their children amid the challenges of a global pandemic. 

The lockdown coupled with the fear of the coronavirus infection has caused a spike in cases of mental disorders across India, say doctors. Mood swings, depressive episodes and anxiety disorders are on the rise. 

Children, who have history of mental disorders, are particularly prone to drown in depression or suffer from relapses due to the changes caused by the pandemic, say psychiatrists.

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