By Marica Micallef
A study done on DAK-most Gesundherit’s recent hospital data for the Children and Youth Report 2022 and published on DAK website concluded that the pandemic has had a significant impact on children’s and adolescents’ health in Germany.
There was an increase in eating disorders and depression in 2021 in teenagers between the ages of 15 and 17. Girls were treated as inpatients far more frequently than boys for mental diseases. There was a discernible rise in both developmental problems and impairments of social functioning in children of primary school age.
Considering this significant development, DAK CEO Andreas Storm and the professional group of paediatricians are urging swift legislative action.
According to the data and study, the effects of Covid19 were bad for girls in their late teens. More than 32 times as many girls than boys between the ages of 15 and 17 were hospitalized for eating disorders, a pattern that grew worse during the pandemic. They also visited German clinics five times as frequently due to depression, three times as frequently due to anxiety disorders, and 2.5 times as frequently due to emotional problems.
DAK CEO Andreas Storm claimed that “Our current children and youth report shows how much boys and girls are suffering in the pandemic. The sharp increase in depression or eating disorders is a silent cry for help that must wake us up.”
“We can no longer stand by and give the issue of child and youth health more weight and act. The situation has deteriorated dramatically in the past year, but politicians have not yet reacted accordingly. He added that this “is about the future health of an entire generation.”
Overall, compared to the prior year, there were considerably more treatments available for teenagers with eating disorders and depression in 2021. Teenagers with depression increased by 28% among those aged 15 to 17 and those with eating disorders increased by 17% among those aged 17 and older.
Hospitalizations for eating disorders grew by 40% in 2021 compared to 2019. Additionally, there was an increase in the number of adolescents aged 15 to 17 who underwent inpatient treatment for emotional disorders in 2021, up 42%.
Schoolchildren between the ages of ten and fourteen displayed comparable patterns. Here, in-patient therapy for eating disorders, anxiety disorders, and depression increased by 25%, 27%, and 25%, respectively (up 21 percent).
Children between the ages of five and nine received 36% more treatment for social function impairments in clinics in 2021. There was an increase of 11% for developmental problems. Boys were treated more frequently than girls in this situation, almost twice as frequently for social function disruption and over three times as frequently for developmental problems, which is surprising given that boys were treated more frequently than girls.
“The corona pandemic and in particular the measures imposed by politicians to combat the pandemic have caused considerable damage to the health of children of all ages. In addition to more organic diseases such as obesity, the identifiable damage to health mainly affects the psych socioemotional area,” says Dr. Thomas Fischbach, President of the Professional Association of Paediatricians.
“Children and young people are just as vulnerable within the population as old or previously ill citizens during the corona pandemic. While the latter were of course also rightly given attention and care, for more than two years those responsible in politics simply ignored the just as existentially important needs and requirements of the younger generation. The resulting damage is considerable, as this DAK report shows. How much permanent damage was caused is still difficult to determine today. Lessons must be learned from the mistakes made in fighting the pandemic, especially on the part of politicians. Children also have the same rights as adults, always. And these rights belong in our Basic Law.”
More than blaming the pandemic, the blame must be put on the governments and the way they tackled the pandemic while knowing the repercussions it will have on the mental health of the citizens!