The world experienced the emergence of a new coronavirus in Wuhan China in 2019 (Covid-19). In March 2020 the Covid-19 has declared a pandemic due to the increasing number of cases, cutting across all populations in other countries outside of China. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO) globally there are over 1.8billion young people aged 15 to 24years, accounting for 18percent of the world population with over 90% living in Africa. The Covid-19 pandemic has not spared any age group, having been described as the worst global health crisis of our time and the greatest challenge the world has faced since World War Two. Though the overall mortality and morbidity from Covid-19 in young people seem not as high as the adult population according to WHO, there may be significant levels of indirect physical, social and mental health effects resulting from decreased access to health care and general pandemic control measures and this was reiterated in a report of United Nations Secretary-General which pointed out that the Covid-19 pandemic will have long-lasting social, cultural, economic, political and varying impacts on the whole of the societies including young people.
A mandated restriction was initiated placing a total shutdown of schools, hospitality services, religious places of worship, market places and other non-critical infrastructure, encouraging people to work from home, all in a bid to limit social and physical interactions. According to a study conducted by the United Nations Children’s Fund ( UNICEF ) and International Federation of Medical Students (IFMSA) on the impacts of the lockdown on young people, it was observed that in about 40% of those studied, their mental health was affected. Some factors were mentioned which include; being cut off from friends and school, fear of falling ill, and uncertainty about the future. During the lockdown, the loss of contact with peers, ban on outdoor sporting activities limiting opportunities to keep physically fit, due to a lack of recreational outlets, internet addiction, increased severe family crises, with risks of domestic violence, feelings of worthlessness and anxiety may eventually lead to higher rates of school dropouts; teenage drug and alcohol abuse; eating disorders; unplanned teen pregnancies; and severe depression or psychosis.
The pandemic has affected young people through anxiety and depression, mental well-being is lowest for young women and younger youth between the ages of 18 and 24. It also noted that young people who had disruption or entirely stopped either education or work were almost twice as likely as affected by anxiety or depression as those who were continually on employment or uninterrupted education. This highlights the interconnectivity that exists between mental well-being, educational success, and labor market integration.
With less than ten years to achieving the Sustainable development goals 2030 Agenda. The Youths are not just beneficiaries of this agenda but have been active stakeholders in its development and continue to be engaged in the frameworks and processes that support its implementation, follow-up, and review. The active engagement of youth in sustainable development efforts is central to achieving sustainable, inclusive, and stable societies by the target date, and to overcoming the threats and challenges to sustainable development, including the impacts of climate change, unemployment, poverty, gender inequality, conflict, migration and presently Covid-19 pandemic13. There is a need to support and lend our voices and actions, according to the Global survey. It calls for prompt and directed, targeted, and smarter investments in decent jobs for youth, including in the protection of young people’s human rights; employment and training guarantee programs; social protection and unemployment insurance benefits for youth; greater efforts to boost the quality and delivery of online and distance learning; and stronger complementarities with mental health services, psychosocial support, and sports activities. The study further concluded that by working together, with and for the youths, a long-lasting negative effect of Covid-19 on the young lives can be averted can we prevent the COVID-19 crisis from having not only a negative but a potentially long-lasting impact on the lives of the youths.