Depression, school malaise … The dramatic image of the Ticino youth: “You kill us and you do not notice”

BELLINZONA – The Independent Union of Students and Apprentices (SISA) presented today during a press conference the data collected through a questionnaire for the campaign “School and mental health: talking about it is not enough!”, Promotion between the months January and March. The aim of the survey was to photograph the mental health status of the student population and to understand what role the school plays in the well-being of the student body.

The questionnaire reached 800 female students, mostly from Ticino High School. “The data collected – writes SISA in a note – are alarming but not surprising: 1/3 of the student population reports the presence of severe to very severe depressive symptoms! Not surprising, because the result corresponds to what in November 2020 “was sponsored by a study by the University of Basel – after which 29% of young people have severe depressive symptoms – and a more recent one by UNICEF Switzerland, in which the same percentage was marked”.

A reality contextualized by the student union is the role of class membership. In fact, students from disadvantaged socioeconomic backgrounds suffer the most: 45% of participants in this category have severe depressive symptoms, compared to “only” 28% of those living in a more comfortable situation.

“The mental health of young people is a matter of class! – further press release -. This is also evidenced by the participants’ comments on suicidal thoughts. In fact, when 37% stated that they had suicidal and / or hurtful thoughts, at least for a few days in the last two weeks, this percentage reached 46% among the population from a more disadvantaged socio-economic status. Therefore, if we are all susceptible to the development of depressive symptoms, the survey suggests that those who are already in an unfavorable social position are most affected. In short, everyone is vulnerable, but there are people who are undeniably more fragile! In addition to these data, it turns out that the most affected by this depressive condition are people who identify with the female gender or do not identify with a gender: a fact that deserves to be contextualized and placed in a context in which d ‘Division of sexual labor and still strongly divided between the productive and reproductive spheres! “.

To supplement this data, the survey measured school malice, which is the way the student population lives in the school environment and is against its normativeness: 6 out of 10 students say they experience severe school malice!

“Comparing the individual responses between school illnesses and depressive symptoms it turns out that the two variables are correlated: school malaise burns the intensity of depressive symptoms and / or vice versa. In these terms, despite the depression, the big problem of our neo -liberal society, in which the cult of achievement, the myth of meritocracy, competitiveness, the deep sense of individual inadequacy dominates, the school can not fail to assume its responsibilities .. A place where young people most of their time, where they are exposed to a normativeness that is strongly influenced by the competitive mantra of the market society, including academic performance, categorization and social selection.

Therefore, when the subject of depression is a broad question, of society, of the structure that needs a deep social transformation, the school system is no world apart. This must be seen as part of the problem and the solution and not wanting to intervene means endangering the lives and well-being of the student population. A student in a section of the questionnaire said, “You cool us down and you do not even notice it.” A powerful, peremptory message that sums up the pain and anger that a portion of the student population experiences every day. For this reason, SISA claims a change in schools, both on the grounds for such a “sick” school climate and on the suffering situation. In this regard, among the 15 measures proposed by SISA in the report of the inquiry to the authorities, the following 5 were considered urgent:

Free and public recovery classes:

Expanding the public service in the field of student support by introducing free and public refresher courses in all school arrangements, the task offers for trainees.

Stop at the limit of errors:

Abolish the limit for errors of the year in Secondary II (High Schools, SCCs and Vocational Schools) and change the method of obtaining the High School Diploma by introducing a recovery session in the summer;

Reduce pressure, reduce weekly work:

Reducing the weekly hour allocation, abolishing surprise evaluation moments, introducing a limit number of 2 experiments per week, abolishing homework, implementing part of the canonical lesson hours and moments of recovery and individual work with the teacher;

Strengthening the Cantonal Psychological and Medical Service (SMP):

The cantonal medical psychology service (SMP) of the DSS / DECS needs to be strengthened and expanded, and strengthen its staff with a social and psychological training to enable them to work in the school. This must include the emergence of a disorder in a student and redirect him to an external psychologist who will follow him individually and for free;

Improve teaching staff and launch campaigns against stigma:

Improve teacher education by introducing courses that raise awareness about mental health issues. Against the stigmatization of those who suffer: Strengthen and introduce awareness-raising and prevention campaigns on the subject of well-being and health in all training cycles.

The authorities finally recognize the problem. SISA has been saying this for some time now: we must intervene now before the situation worsens! “.

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