SMHS’ mental unit receives 12 drug addict children daily


Srinagar, Oct 12: The drug abuse among children under 16 years of age has set alarm bells ringing, with medicos blaming the availability of cannabis in the valley.
Dr Hena Hajini, Child Psychologist at the psychiatry unit of the SMHS Hospital, said three of every 10 people visiting the centre were below 16.
“Children under the age of 16 are seeking help at this centre. I recently checked a 15-year-old boy who had a conduct disorder. I am receiving around 30 mental ailment cases of children in which under the age of 16 children fall into conduct disorder—an early stage of substance abuse,” she said.
She blames cannabis, which, she said, has been readily available in the valley.
She said there was an increase in the conduct disorder cases among children.
“If a 16- year-old child with conduct disorder is not being treated properly at an early stage, he or she can become a case of substance abuse after crossing 18,” she said.
According to the hospital authorities, conduct disorder is a serious behavioural and emotional disorder seen in children and teens.
An affected child may display a pattern of disruptive and violent behaviour.
According to the doctors in the hospital, they receive 12 drug abuse cases daily, with reasons such as social anxiety, differences with parents, stress and social constructs, cognitive problems, and present education system.
Dr Mohammad Maqbool Dar, Head of the Psychiatry Department, said earlier the cases of drug abuse among children were rare.
“Hundreds of minor boys, and even girls, are getting addicted to drugs and substances, and it's a serious public health issue," he said.
“Parents should build a good relationship with their children. Lack of understanding and supervision can create a stressful environment for the children, leading to conduct disorder. Even some parents are most of the times unaware about it,” he said.
“We are counselling the children, but the treatment takes time. But it is the responsibility of parents as well to understand and supervise the activities of their children. Schools across the valley should also conduct awareness programs to engage the students,” he said.