ATHENS – While it was tough enough for adults to bear, a 10-week lockdown that began in March to slow the spread of COVID-19 was especially difficult for Greek children and adolescents stuck mostly at home, affecting their mental health.
Calls to the MeYpostirizo (I support myself) helpline of the University of Athens‘ pediatric clinic quadrupled between March 23 when the lockdown was imposed and early May when restrictions started being lifted, said Kathimerini.
Artemis Tsitsika, Assistant Professor at the Athens University Medical School and President of the Hellenic Society of Adolescent Medicine, said the helpline was overwhelmed with calls parents seeking advice for children showing signs of depression, isolation and frustration.
A third of the calls related to young boys – mostly for excessive Internet use and aggression as their time outside was limited, as was contact with any friends, while girls tended to suffer from isolation and eating disorders, Tsitsika said.
Outdoor activities and gatherings with friends were cut down drastically as well with the closing of schools until late in the school year, leaving children and adolescents cooped up at home, relying on computers, cell phones and toys.
“Children have many worries related to the consequences of COVID-19 such as whether they will see their friends and relatives, go to school or get sick,” Psychiatric Times wrote of the world phenomenon.
“It is often difficult for parents to calm their children’s anxieties because of the uncertainty in their lives,” the report added, the findings in Greece bearing that out.