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Expert Meeting “Children’s Mental Health in Modern Society”

Expert meeting “Children’s Mental Health in Modern Society” organised by the Child Protection Center of the City of Zagreb and the Psychiatric Hospital for Children and Youth was held on March 20th 2015 on the premises of the Child Protection Center of the City of Zagreb. The aim of the meeting was focused on the improvement of professional competences of experts working with children with most prevalent developmental, emotional and behavioural problems and those exposed to stressful and traumatic experience, and on the support provided to parents.

The meeting was opened by directors of both institutions: Prof. Gordana Buljan Flander, PhD, on behalf of the Child Protection Center of the City of Zagreb, and Vlatka Boričević Maršanić, PhD on behalf of the Psychiatric Hospital for Children and Youth.

Presentations, lectures, discussion

In the first presentation under the title “Anxious and Depressive Child – Causes and Helping the Child, the Family and School”, Davorka Šarić, MD, gave an overview of diagnostic criteria and therapeutic approaches in working with children suffering from anxiety and depression. Authors of this presentation are Davorka Šarić, MD, Lubica Paradžik, MD and Ljiljana Karapetrić Bolfan, MD, from the Psychiatric Hospital for Children and Youth.

Bruna Profaca, PhD presented “Parental Stress – What Kind of Support Do Parents Need?”. The co-author of the presentation is Sena Puhovski, a psychologist from the Child Protection Center of the City of Zagreb. Humanistic approach in working with children is emphasised, which includes counselling the parents, too, especially those who, in the situation of general stress, experience a more intense parental stress.

Vlatka Boričević Maršanić, PhD presented “Agitated, Impulsive and Irritated Child – Differential Diagnostics and Treatment” (the co-author being Antonija Nikolina Domokuš, MD), which is about the importance of differential diagnostic assessment of children with the aforementioned problems which are most often noticed by the parents and teachers, and the possibilities of therapeutic work and experience in the Psychiatric Hospital for Children and Youth.

The lecture under the title “Challenges of Growing Up with Modern Technology – Supporting Children Involved in Cyber-Bullying” was delivered by Prof. Gordana Buljan Flander, PhD, the co-authors being Tea Brezinšćak, a psychologist and Ana Marija Španić, psychologist of the Child Protection Centre of the City of Zagreb. Research of the Centre in collaboration with the Brave Phone was presented, as well as the challenges of professional working with children belonging to the first generation growing up in the everyday presence of electronic communication. The importance of preventive work with children, their parents and teachers was emphasised.

After that, Domagoj Štimac, MD, psychiatrist of the Child Protection Center of the City of Zagreb delivered a lecture titled “Sport as Therapeutic Support of Traumatised Children” with emphasised importance of supporting children, which is the primary protective factor in recovering from traumatic experience, apart from the specific benefits in relation to support in sport activities.

Finally, in the discussion at the end of the meeting, the participants focused on the collaboration in various systems, especially in education and health care, in the best interest of the child.

This meeting was an opportunity to exchange experience and create contacts among the professionals working with children.

The situation was highlighted where professionals today in their everyday work with children and youth encounter various challenges: new diagnostic criteria in the field of mental health, the importance of a system approach in working with children and youth and the challenges of new modern technology imposed on children, their parents, teachers and other professionals working with them.