About Youth Mental Health on the Round Table of the City of Zagreb and the Center for Youth Health

The City of Zagreb, the City Office for Health and the Center for Youth Health organized on October 12, 2018 a round table on “Mental Health of Youth – Teen Blues”, where many experts from fields of psychology, psychiatry, pedagogy and public health discussed mental hygiene of young people. , psychologist and manager of diagnostic and treatment, participated on behalf of the Child and Youth Protection Center of Zagreb.

Renata Ćorić Špoljar talked about the Center’s experiences in working with children and young people and the cooperation of the City Office of Health with the Center on the project about peer violence and mental health of young people. Within this project, ongoing educational lectures at high school teachers’ councils are conducted by Center’s specialists. The project is extremely important because it is focused on the necessary preventive work with children and young people.

According to a study by the Faculty of Education and Rehabilitation in Zagreb, as many as 30% of young people in Zagreb said they feel anxious, 20% of them have symptoms of depression and stress, and 14% considered suicide once in their life.

The results of the research suggest that every fourth young person is depressed, which is very worrying and was the starting point for discussion in how to solve this problem, identify symptoms early in life and help young people articulate their feelings and ask for help openly and without fear.

– The research which was conducted recently by the Faculty of Education and Rehabilitation on 5,000 pupils in Zagreb showed that young people are very anxious, even 10% more than a few years ago when similar research was conducted, when 20% of young people were anxious, in comparison with 30 % anxious people today.

I think the reason for this is the absence of and the lack of communication with parents, lack of connection with school and society in general. Kindergartens and schools should be places where young people are connected and unfortunately this is often not the case. The problem of alienation is in my opinion the major cause of depression in young people. –  said. Ph.D. Miranda Novak, of the Faculty of Education and Rehabilitation of the University of Zagreb.

Mihael Kozina, psychologist and psychoterapist tried to explain why 60% of young people do not like going to school:

Schools today forget that children are not only pupils, but also people who have different interests, fears and live in different environments. School is no longer a place where information is obtained, they can be obtained anywhere and quickly. Schools should be dealing more with relationships, mentoring, more accountable leadership of young people today. The professors should be mentors who will guide students through the forest of information and discuss them, understand them, be close to them, listen to them, and definitely advise.

I think you do not just have to talk, but take concrete measures. I just came back from an international conference on which a declaration was signed that suggests ways of intervention that can help. It is very important that the interventions are implemented in schools, so specialists and mentors can be involved. I find that the worst thing that can happen in school is not a bad grade, but the fact that the child is unaccepted. Unfortunately, peer violence is becoming more and more common in schools. It is important to talk about everything, to make an institutional framework for resolving and destigmatizing all the problems so young people who have had, for example, experience with abuse in school can openly talk about it without shame and thus help their peers. – said prof. dr. sc. Danijela Štimac Grbić, MD, Head of the Department for Mental Health and Prevention of Addiction to HZJZ.

The City of Zagreb carries out three programs that deal with mental health of young people – “I Feel” in collaboration with the ItHurts Association, which aims to encourage young people to talk about their emotions; then the project “Look at yourself” and “It’s not cool to be bully” that works on preventing of peer violence. Youth’s mental health and the struggle with peer violence is one of the main topics we are dealing with and I hope that thanks to this round table this conversation will encourage the changes in the educational system that are obviously necessary. – emphasized dr.sc. Vjekoslav Jeleč, MD, Head of the City Health Office of the City of Zagreb.

– We’ve all failed – parents, healthcare system and schooling. It is not enough just to talk, it is also important to listen. Children today are under tremendous stress and pressure because the community assures them that they must have an average grade of 5.00 or otherwise they will not succeed in life, enroll in high school, college, and so on. We all have to be educated in working with young people and stop imposing unrealistic expectations on them. – emphasized Mirjana Orban, MD, Psychiatrist, Head of the Department of Mental Health and Prevention of Addiction, NZJZ “Dr. Andrija Štampar “.

Zrinka Ćavar, PhD, Psychiatrist, Head of the Department of Mental Health of Children and Young People of the NZJZ “Dr. Andrija Štampar “explained when are children most likely to come to the Youth Health Center:

– Children often come when they are going through big changes, like starting a new school year, going to high school or college. Children who suffer from disorders over a long period of time start to reach for very dangerous mechanisms, such as self-harm, alcohol and drugs, all to suppress their feelings, anxiety or depression. It is very important to recognize these symptoms on time.

– As a conclusion, I would certainly invite all participants to listen the youth attentively, try to approach them in an appropriate way, use the technology and communication they understand. I would urge all parents, professors and young people in the City of Zagreb to turn to the Youth Health Center. Here I can come without a referral and look for help without fear. – Pointed out Ivana Portolan Pajić, MD, deputy head of the City Office for Health in the end.

Attendees of the round table “Mental Health of Youth – Teen Blues” were:

Moderator: Ivana Portolan Pajić, MD, deputy head of the City Office for Health Care

Ph.D Vjekoslav Jeleč, MD, Head of the City Health Office of the City of Zagreb

Ph.D. Danijela Štimac Grbić, MD, Head of the Department of Mental Health and Prevention of Addiction to HZJZ

Ph.D. Miranda Novak, Faculty of Education and Rehabilitation, University of Zagreb

Mirjana Orban, MD, Psychiatrist, Head of Mental Health and Prevention of Addiction, NZJZ “Dr. Andrija Štampar ”

Ph.D. Zrinka Čavar, Psychiatrist, Head of the Department of Mental Health of Children and Young People of the NZJZ “Dr. Andrija Štampar ”

Mihael Kozina, B.Sc. psychologist and psychotherapist, V gymnasium in Zagreb

Marina Vitković, prof., Founder of the ItHurts Association for Mental Health of the Youth

Renata Ćorić Špoljar, Clinical Psychologist, Head of Treatment and Diagnosis at the Child and Youth Protection Center of Zagreb

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