About 5,000 children have lost a parent to COVID-19, and impacts from the pandemic on the youngsters are worse than the tsunami tragedy, according to the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Rajanagarindra Institute (Camri).
Dutsadee Juengsiragulwit, the institute director, said the Department of Mental Health is mobilising efforts to support bereaved children whose number is expected to rise as infections soar.
She said each child will be interviewed by experts to determine their mental health and the support they need to make sure their grieving does not also hinder their education and their future.
She said the pandemic has affected children in other ways as they have been forced to switch to online classes and many have seen their parents lose their jobs.
Isolation and economic hardship during the pandemic can cause stress and take a heavy toll on mental health, said Dr Juengsiragulwit.
Supatcha Suthipol, director-general of the Department of Children and Youth, said four agencies are working to provide support to the children.
These agencies have joined hands with Unicef in setting up a support centre with assistance and support being extended to children who have lost a parent to the virus, she said.
She said the department provides 2,000 baht in support to foster families who are their relatives, but children who have no families will be placed in department care homes that can accommodate 1,935 people.
She said the department is also upgrading its mobile Khrumkhrong Dek (protecting children) application to boost help for children who have lost a parent.
Nicola Brandt, child protection specialist at Unicef, said the agency is ready to support efforts to reach out to the young, and welcomed investments in services to support children’s health, safety, and well-being.