Nine lakh kids low in mental health in Kerala

10% of students in state suffer from learning disabilities, says report.

Thiruvananthapuram: At least nine lakh children in the state are estimated to suffer from mild to severe intellectual disabilities like mental retardation, autism, Asperger's syndrome, depression and learning disability. This finding, which reportedly reveals only a fraction of the problem, is laid down in the report of the single-man M K Jayaraj Commission formed to study the problems faced by children suffering from intellectual disabilities.

The commission has also recommended the formation of the State-level Apex Centre on Intellectual Challenge to tackle what it terms an “invisible social problem" urgently. “The exact proportion of children suffering from brain-related damages is not known,” said M K Jayaraj, the single-man commission and the principal of State Institute for the Mentally Challenged.

“Certain studies, however, show that the proportion of children with learning difficulties alone is shocking,” he said. His report quotes a study which has concluded that children with mild to profound learning difficulty constitute 10 percent of the student community in the state.

Jayaraj, who did extensive consultation with child psychologists, notes in his report that there was an extraordinary increase in the number of children showing problems like schizophrenia and anxiety disorder. “At least nine lakh children are suffering from brain-related disorders in the state,” the report said.
The Jayaraj Commission report states that children suffering from intellectual challenges are “socially invisible”.

“This is mainly because there is either misconception or plain ignorance about the problems faced by people with brain damage or other such intellectual disabilities,” the report states. As a consequence, the study notes, it is easy to exploit parents of such children. “Scientific tests have not proven that these conditions, especially damage to brain cells, could be mitigated by treatment or medicines. Even so, parents fall prey to fake claims of instant remedies,” the report notes.

It is in this context that the report recommends the formation of the State-level Apex Centre on Intellectual Challenge. The centre will head a comprehensive network of medical and training centres, and special schools in various parts of the state. The apex centre will have four regional centres that will organise activities at the district, taluk and panchayat levels.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle. )
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