“The problems of neurodevelopment and mental health of children and adolescents that have manifested themselves during the pandemic are likely to become chronic and spread on a large scale.” This is the alarm launched by the Guarantee Authority for Childhood and Adolescents, Carla Garlatti, on 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 in collaboration with Ministry of Education. To conduct the research – the first scientific of national importance – over 90 experts were consulted, including child neuropsychiatrists, pediatricians, social workers, psychologists, educators and teachers.
Professionals interviewed reported eating disorders, suicidal thoughts (suicide attempt and suicide), self-harm, altered sleep-wake rhythms, and social withdrawal. In the pedagogical field, learning, attention and language disorders, behavioral and cognitive and emotional regulatory disorders were found, as well as fear of contagion, a state of frustration and uncertainty about the future, generated uncertainty and cases of school failure. An increase in requests for assistance with the use of psychoactive substances, cannabinoids and alcohol has also been reported, while unaccompanied migrant minors have experienced difficulties in managing isolation and quarantines in reception facilities.
More generally, the pandemic caused what professionals interviewed by the research team defined as a real “mental health emergency.” In fact, a stream of requests for help has been received, which in many cases have been matched by inadequacy and inequality of responses that have revealed structural deficiencies and delays before coronavirus. Children, adolescents and families have often been forced to turn to private individuals with significant and hard-earned economic commitments, which have increased inequality. At the same time, the blockchain has uncovered the potential of telemedicine to reveal mental health, but it is necessary to invest quickly in training providers and in specific technologies to help children and adolescents.
Against this scenario, the guarantee authority has formulated a series of recommendations. “Among them, there is first the need to overcome planning, prevention and treatment actions for regional and local fragmentation. The post-pandemic phase may be an exceptional opportunity to do so and to improve the system in general. But there is no time to.” waste, “warns Garlatti. “Adequate resources must be provided for services, specific answers must be provided on the basis of age, a number of beds must be guaranteed and departments dedicated to minors and school psychology services must be established to enable a link between school and territory. is equally important to bring about cultural change through intervention on the pedagogical role and on the promotion of intergenerational dialogue “.
Some of the recommendations are dedicated to schools.
The research lasted one year and will continue for another two years, with 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 psychosocial professions.
mental health recommendations sheet