By the decision of Mayor Milan Bandić, the City of Zagreb established and appointed the Commission for the Protection of the Mental Health of Children and Youth of the City of Zagreb during and after the COVID-19 crisis on April 29th, 2020. The tasks of the Commission are to prepare and direct activities for drafting proposals for mental health programs for children and youth of the City of Zagreb during and after COVID-19 health crisis, implementation, collection and evaluation of data and preventive intervention activities on mental health and participation in monitoring program implementation.
The health crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as the economic crisis that accompanies it, deeply affects all individuals and society as a whole. Children are especially vulnerable, whose psychological well-being is especially endangered due to the lack of defense mechanisms in a situation of prolonged and extreme stress. In the existing literature dealing with the consequences of health epidemics and related measures on children’s mental health, the American study conducted on 398 parents with epidemic experience (H1N1, SARS, bird flu) stands out. According to parent estimates, 30% of children with quarantine experience met the criteria for PTSD (Sprang and Silman, 2013). In shaping the strategy for dealing with the current pandemic and its consequences, it is crucial to focus on the mental health of children and to recognize this as a priority public health problem. In this regard, it is important to focus on providing resources to strengthen children during and after crisis events, especially those children who are at high risk due to previous mental health comorbidities or risky growing up conditions.
The goal of the Commission for Mental Health of Children and Youth of the City of Zagreb due to the COVID 19 crisis is to strengthen the long-term resilience of children by strengthening the capacity of the child protection system and the child’s environment, through:
1) coordinated activities,
2) support for cooperation between all institutions owned by the City of Zagreb that work directly with children, and
3) promoting dialogue between the community and health, educational and social services, with special emphasis on cross-sectoral cooperation and a joint initiative in the protection of the mental health of the youngest.
For president of the Commission was appointed professor Gordana Buljan Flander, PhD, clinical psychologist and psychotherapist, director of the Zagreb Child and Youth Protection Center; vice presidents Jelena Pavičić Vukičević, PhD, Deputy Mayor and Vjekoslav Jeleč, PhD-MD, specialist neurosurgeon, head of the City Health Office. Members of the Commission are also Romana Galić, head of the City Office for Social Protection and Persons with Disabilities; Milana Vuković Runjić, MSc., Head of the City Office for Culture; Iva Milardović Štimac, Deputy Head of City Office for Education; Miroslav Hanževački, PhD – MD family medicine specialist, director of the Zagreb West Health Center; Mirjana Orban, MD, psych. pead. soc., Head of the Department for Mental Health and Addiction Prevention; Ivana Jolić, mag. pead. soc., director of the Counseling Center Luka Ritz; Igor Mikloušić, PhD, psychologist; Tea Brezinšćak, MSc. of Psychology, Ella Selak Bagarić, MSc. of Psychology and Ivan Bon, kinesiology professor.
Disclaimer: This is unofficial translation provided for information purposes. Zagreb Child and Youth Protection Center cannot be held legally responsible for any translation inaccuracy.