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Psychosocial Impact of the Mongolian Dzud On Children PDF Print E-mail
Mongolia Information - Culture
Thursday, 09 February 2006 08:00

A UNICEF report looks into the psychosocial impact of the zud on children. The main observations are as follows:

  1. The dzud has a psychosocial effect on children, and is dependent on the material impact on the family and their ability to continue caretaking functions for the child. The peer group of the child, especially in schools, is a positive mitigating factor in easing negative psychosocial impacts. Addressing these effects within the framework of very limited psychological resources will be a challenge, and training will be needed. The focus needs to be on both the child individually, the family as a whole, and the school as a peer group capable of providing substitute supportive roles.
  2. A W.H.O. study recently conducted indicates increasing levels of suicide in Mongolia, with the younger age group included in this increase. While a cause and effect cannot be assumed, this figure is one indicator used in psychosocial assessments.
  3. The isolation of some families during the dzud results in a school drop out rate that is unacceptable. The magnitude of this problem is very difficult to determine, although estimates can be made on the soum level and, in some areas, have already being done. This effects younger children and older youth. One of the causes stated by several of our interviewees is the need for adequate clothing to live in a dormitory. Ancillary causes include poor dormitory conditions and schools that are in poor physical condition. According to the UNICEF Program Officer, youth have stated that they would stay in school if the facilities were in better condition. This finding requires further thought and consideration for possible avenues of action.
  4. Ulan Bator is seeing an increase of youth with a wide array of psychosocial problems, some related to the dzud, some related to migration, and some related to other societal factors. It is very difficult to view this growing youth problem in isolation from the dzud. Rather, it probably should be seen as a continuum of a growing threat of potentially harmful influences in Mongolia that will demonstrate visible effects on civil society, crime levels, substance abuse, and family disruptions. This is of concern to UNICEF.
  5. Capacity for providing psychosocial assistance to children and adolescents is minimal. This includes lower levels of care that might include even minimal interventions of supportive counseling, empathic listening, and knowledge of normal stress-related symptoms, to higher level interventions for the rare but serious cases of severe depression or psychosis. Psychotropic medicine at the soum levels rarely is adequate, or even included. Even when available many families cannot afford them. The Revolving Drug Fund is a viable solution to this problem, but it is not yet widespread, and not fully functional.
  6. General observations of mental health of children effected by the dzud are remarkably good, but there are small numbers of children who would benefit from further evaluation, or, at the least, emergency psychosocial interventions that encourage positive coping techniques, recognition of stress and its management, and a supportive adult to listen to worries.
  7. The next two to three months may be the most difficult. The dzud will continue, and winter fatigue will be at a high. Then the school year will end and children will be with their families to help and to be part of the summer work. This increased time of family togetherness may be a time of increased stress for the family if parents are experiencing significant loss from the dzud. A period of preparation for this time may help to avoid and recognize signs of tension and misunderstanding.
reply written by alishba , January 31, 2011

godd.. it helped mee..
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