Boris Altshuler: Doctors should not forget about the mental health of children with coronavirus

15 April 2020

Human rights defender Boris Altshuler – on the importance of psychological support for children with coronavirus, who are isolated in hospital

Source: Moscow Helsinki Group [original source: Клуб регионов]

The Krasnodar region’s children’s ombudsman Tatiana Kovaleva announced that she will investigate videos in which children with suspected coronavirus are violently forced into transportation boxes. Images of children being hospitalised in special boxes gained a great deal of attention among residents of the region. In the video’s comments, users remarked that the psychological trauma only exacerbates the situation for sick children.

Boris Altshuler, president of Right of the Child, a regional non-profit organisation for the protection of children’s rights, and a member of the Moscow Helsinki Group, believes that in the fight against the large-scale epidemic we must not forget about psychological support for children, who are left on their own with people in protective suits.

“Transportation in a box is hugely stressful for a child, but that is only part of the problem. What about after that? They’re taken and left there on their own, and surrounded by people in protective anti-plague suits? Furthermore, in most cases the children only have coronavirus mildly, so it’s a child who is practically healthy put in isolation. But they need psychological support, so that they don’t break down from two weeks of these conditions, and are healthy in all respects when they leave.

“Are the regional authorities in a position to organise this kind of support? Are there at least some psychologists who can deal with children’s wellbeing, in these hospitals, or are there just tired nurses? It’s a crime if there’s no psychological support. So small children should isolate with their mothers, or be left at home in mild cases.

“We are now seeing, everywhere, that the authorities sometimes go too far with restrictive measures. But when this concerns adults, it’s one thing, and when small children end up in this kind of situation, we need serious measures for the protection of the child’s mental health. With any decision, the child should feel OK mentally.”

Translated by Mercedes Malcomson

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