Health

The effects of the pandemic on children and young people: “We are facing a mental health emergency. There is no time to lose”. The Guarantor’s studio together with Iss and the Ministry of Education

Research has revealed the emergence of eating disorders, suicidal ideation (attempted suicide and suicide), self-harm, altered sleep-wake rhythms and social withdrawal. In the educational field, learning, attention and language disorders, behavioral disorders and cognitive and emotional regulation disorders have been found, as well as fear of contagion, a state of frustration and uncertainty about the future, generating insecurity and cases of school dropout . I STUDY.

12 MAY

“The problems of neurodevelopment and mental health of children and young people that manifested during the pandemic are likely to become chronic and spread on a large scale”. It is the alarm that the Authority for Childhood and Adolescence raises, Carla Garlattion the occasion of the publication of the study Pandemic, neurodevelopment and mental health of children and young people promoted by Agia with the Higher Institute of Health and with the collaboration of the Ministry of Education. To carry out the research – the first scientific one of national significance – over 90 experts were heard, including child neuropsychiatrists, pediatricians, social workers, psychologists, pedagogues and teachers.

The emergencies reported by the research
Professionals interviewed reported eating disorders, suicidal ideation (attempted suicide and suicide), self-harm, altered sleep-wake rhythms, and social withdrawal. In the educational field, learning, attention and language disorders, behavioral and cognitive and emotional regulation disorders were found, as well as fear of contagion, a state of frustration and uncertainty about the future, generating insecurity and cases of school dropout. An increase in requests for help for the use of psychoactive substances, cannabinoids and alcohol was also reported, while unaccompanied migrant minors experienced difficulties in managing isolation and quarantine in reception facilities.

More generally, the pandemic has caused what the professionals interviewed by the research team have defined as a real “mental health emergency”. In fact, a surge in requests for help has been recorded which in many cases have been matched by inadequacy and inequality of responses that have revealed structural deficiencies and delays preceding the coronavirus. Children, teenagers and families have often found themselves forced to turn to private individuals with significant and difficult to sustain economic commitments, which have increased inequalities. At the same time, the lockdown revealed the potential of telemedicine applied to mental health, but it is necessary to invest quickly in training operators and in specific technologies to assist children and young people.

The recommendations of the Guarantor Authority
Faced with this scenario, the Guarantor Authority has formulated a series of recommendations regarding neurodevelopment, mental health and psychological well-being of children and young people to Parliament, Government, Regions, Municipalities, educational institutions and social promotion and third sector organizations. involving the regional and autonomous provinces’ Guarantors of childhood and adolescence for the promotion of educational pacts
community.

The recommendations, the result of research work on the impact that the Covid-19 pandemic has had on the well-being of minors, are aimed at guaranteeing the rights of minors throughout the national territory, regardless of personal, family and social and geographical origin or provenance (for the details of the recommendations see attached sheet).

“Among the recommendations there is first of all the need for planning, prevention and treatment actions to overcome regional and local fragmentation. The post-pandemic phase can be an extraordinary opportunity to do so and in general to improve the system. But there is no time to waste ”, warns Garlatti. “Adequate resources must be provided for services, specific answers given on the basis of age, a number of beds must be guaranteed in departments dedicated to minors and school psychology services must be established in order to activate a link between school and territory. It is equally important to make a cultural change by intervening on the educational role and on the promotion of intergenerational dialogue ”.

The research lasted one year and will continue for another two, involving up to 35,000 minors aged 6 to 18 in the five regions involved in the study. To validate it a committee, chaired by Professor Paolo Petralia and composed of authoritative representatives of the scientific, academic and psycho-social professions.

May 12, 2022
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