In Europe 9 million adolescents have mental health problems

In Europe 9 million adolescents have mental health problems

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The mental health of children and adolescents is a global issue that requires immediate and concrete action from society. We must not forget that health is a fundamental human right for all individuals. This is the appeal launched by Ernesto CaffoPresident of the Child Foundation on the occasion of the 17th International Training Seminar in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry promoted by the Child Foundation and Telefono Azzurro.

The day, which is part of the week of the International Training Seminar dedicated to exploring the new frontiers of mental health in youth, hosted authoritative world figures in neuropsychiatry and child psychiatry. The Director of the technical table on Mental Health opened the proceedings Alberto Siracusano recalled: “The global problem of the mental health of children and adolescents requires intervention, an increase in research and the creation of greater knowledge, not only in the health but also social fields, which is of extreme importance. The Ministry is ready and willing to take responsibility for addressing the mental health problems of children and adolescents. This is why we welcome innovation in knowledge and methodologies, emphasizing multidisciplinary and global approaches.”

The data

According to the International Organization for Migration, one in seven people aged 10 to 19 worldwide suffer from mental disorders. In Europe, as many as 9 million adolescents are struggling with mental health problems, mainly marked by depression, anxiety and behavioral disorders. Remarkably, suicide is the leading cause of death for young people aged 15 to 19, with a significantly higher risk for marginalized and discriminated against groups. Even in Italy the situation is equally serious. From the latest survey by Telefono azzurro carried out with the support of BVA Doxa, 1 in 5 young people feel anxious, and for 1 in 3 asking for help from a mental health expert is a source of shame.

These data are confirmed by the increase in contacts by children with dedicated assistance and support lines. In 2022, the WHO recorded over 12,638,633 contacts on the hotlines on the topic of mental health and violence against minors. “Listening to the voices of children and adolescents is key to responding appropriately and effectively to their mental health needs. Effective communication fosters trust and encourages openness leading to better support and intervention. Mental wellbeing is a global problem that concerns different actors and at the same time requires new categories to be understood. For this reason it becomes essential to share knowledge and reflections between various experts at an international level to implement concrete actions to improve the mental health of the little ones” – underlines Prof. Ernesto Caffo, president of the Child Foundation.

The Child Foundation

For over 20 years, the Child Foundation has been working to shape the future of global mental health. To date, there have been over 500 trained researchers from all over the world and their contribution is fundamental to taking a step forward in knowledge and research for greater collective awareness regarding the psychological well-being of children and adolescents.

As the Full Professor of Psychology at the Sapienza University of Rome, Gian Vittorio Caprara, recalled: “Knowledge of the development and functioning of the personality is fundamental for guiding interventions and public policies aimed at promoting the well-being of individuals and the prosperity of societies. It is necessary to put the person at the center of psychological investigation to enhance and develop the aptitudes and abilities that match the full realization of the potential of individuals”.

“When it comes to mental health, the situation varies depending on the part of the world you come from. However, we must all do more and work together to find a way to make a real difference in terms of the well-being and health of children and their families. They are the new generations and we must find a way to help them progress in their lives and careers” underlined Prof. James Frederick Leckman, Professor of child psychiatry, psychology and pediatrics at Yale University, one of the most authoritative exponents in his field in the USA. “In terms of suicide incidents, there’s a huge difference in young girls and young women versus boys. Interestingly, those who are most likely to commit suicide are boys and young adults, but actually young women are more likely to have suicidal intent which can be quite serious.”

“There are several reasons why mental health in children and adolescents is important: you can’t be healthy if you don’t have good mental health, because the body is healthy if the mental health system works. We need to make people feel good. “whole person. Mental health in children and adolescents is often ignored because people don’t pay attention to it or are ashamed because there is a stigma about it. Today we know that between 15 and 20% of children have disorders mental health, they live with it and we have a duty to take care of them. It is a matter of great urgency because these children are suffering and the situation is continuing to worsen. Suicide rates are increasing due to events such as Covid, wars, violence , migration, so it is urgent that we all work on this issue” declared the professor Bennett L. Leventhal,Professor of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at the University of Chicago.

Among others, speakers included Alan Apter professor of child and adolescent psychiatry, Schneider Children’s Medical Center of Israel, Tel Aviv University; Manpreet Kaur Singh, Professor of Clinical Health Sciences, University of California; John Piacentini Professor of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences, UCLA; Anne Marie Albano, Professor of Medical Psychology – in Psychiatry – Columbia University, New York; Eric Fombonne, Professor Emeritus of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Oregon Health Science University, Portland, Oregon; Joaquin Fuentes Policlínica Gipuzkoa, directs the Asdeu project in Gipuzkoa, promoted by the European Commission; Gian Vittorio Caprara, Full Professor of Psychology at Sapienza University of Rome.

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