School and Covid how to deal with the “mental epidemic” among children-

from Martino Spadari

From anxiety crises to isolation: Two years after the epidemic began, students organized themselves to try to solve the problems associated with their new lifestyle. And the first request is more psychological support from the school

There is always some time. And families, as we know, tend to be pragmatic: Given that there is a problem, you are looking for a solution. So it was with the pandemic: should children study smart? We find the optimal solution for this to happen with the child’s best learning outcome and at the same time limit the damage as much as possible. “During the pandemic, fragility came to the surface in children – he explains Francesca Varchetta, teacher of letters in middle school from anxiety, to eating disorders, from difficulty sleeping to self-harming gestures, which in most cases were already underlying and recognizable in the specialists’ assessments. It is noted how often in the presence of specific learning disorders, declared and highlighted in a strong way, families immediately choose to take the speech pedagogical path to try to fix things a little, neglecting to deal with the fragility of a more specific psychological field . “.

Here we are at the problem: obligatory father on the one hand, increased problems for the boys on the other. Students talk about the pandemic period as a “multiplier “, a condition that has brought to light, annoying them, already present problems. Here is the voice of Giacomo Calvi, 18, student (now matured) from Carducci High School in Milan: «With the pandemic, school has become the center of life for each and every one of us. Before, there was sport, socializing among us, the opportunity to travel, in short, normal life. With Covid, everything was reset, and besides distance learning, instant exchange and socializing with companions and friends was only online. So the whole day revolved around the school and its demands. So it is the school that has to worry about the inconveniences that follow us: the presence of a psychologist 4 days a month is not enough, forced to hold up to 15 meetings a day to try to answer all the requests, coming to him. We need more psychologists who have time to follow in addition to individuals even whole classes, understand how they proceed and what problems there are in particular. Not only must they also be able to follow teachers, who are also affected by the complications of Covid, and therefore with their problems. In short, this part of psychological help and assistance, and this also applies to teachers, should be a duty of the school, one of its basic functions. “This is an SOS: Giacomo does not speak only for himself: he is a part by a group of brave schoolmates (about 60): yes, because first of all, they began to want to understand, during the long period of the pandemic, what affected them more, what gave him problems, then they also tried to find possible solutions, for everyone In the last school year, we met once a week, what in the last century was called collective. The school denied us space for these meetings, and then an Arci office offered us a large room, and we went there. No exact agenda. : we dealt with study problems, leisure activities, but also personal problems such as anxiety or depression, and looked for solutions or ways to arrive at solutions. The desire for more psychologists in the school has arisen precisely in one of these collectives ».

Some data: from a monitoring (latest) in March 2021, provided for in an agreement between the Ministry of Education and the Order of Psychologists, it appears that 5,662 schools out of 8,163 (corresponding to 69.2%) have activated the psychological help (and of these 3,178 activated it from thanks to funds for the prevention and treatment of genes caused by Covid, but that has changed after all: the Psychologists’ Associations reported that the number of wards in schools in 2022 fell to 2,500 -3,000, half of those monitored in 2021. Not so good, even from school results: from the last Invalsi 2022 report, half of the children, after 13 years of schooling, do not reach adequacy in Italian or mathematics either. and this especially in the southern regions.So there is an even more alarming figure: according to Eurostat, more than every tenth boy (to be exact 13.1 cents) leaves school before graduation.Therefore, school seems to be at the center for a challenge which, on the one hand, does not guarantee adequate cultural preparation and, on the other hand, is encouraged to take on the (many) nuisances that afflict children.

And here, to hear the words from Nunzia Delia Albanese, a child neuropsychiatrist at an ASST in Monza, seems to hear a war bulletin: “There has been a steady increase in the number of young and very young young people arriving at our emergency rooms because they have attempted suicide or because they insist on to do it. that. Not only that: the young and very young women who refuse food and lose weight to become ghosts of themselves are also growing clearly and are mainly women. In general, suicide attempts occur mainly by taking drugs or other drugs: anxiolytics, antiepileptics, antiparkinsonian patients, strong sedatives, alcohol, household and personal care cleaners, bleach, ammonia, massage oils, antidepressants, often painkillers. The substances ingested are the most varied, often mixed; the analgesic-antipyretic is a common ingredient in various cocktails ». Not bad, it seems that there is nothing missing in the wide range of disorders in men, in general in older men and women, in people who have put a little life behind them. Here, on the other hand, we are talking about children, about people who are beginning to see and understand (or do not understand) adults and who do not know how to get out of this ‘golden trap’ that the world has built on them. . “During the Covid years – he clarifies Simonetta Bonfiglio, President of the Milanese Center for Psychoanalysis – it appeared to witness a ‘mental epidemic’ among young people, an exponential increase in self-harm, suicide attempts, severe eating disorders, panic attacks, internet addiction phenomena, isolation and school dropouts, all episodes recorded by health and territorial structures. There are problems and they are many. “The most fragile teenagers,” he explains Monica Bomba, Director of Child Neuropsychiatrists at Asst in Monza Brianza – they had to look for a way to keep feeling like writers of their own lives. The development of eating disorders, social withdrawal, depression and self-harm over the past two years is impressive and it is also the task of the school to take care of them. Our social system will become more and more unbalanced and in danger of collapse without serious policies in favor of the little ones. ”

However, the school does not seem to have clear solutions to respond to these “New” needs in the boys. The commitment of professors is, as always, there, but it is clear that now, in the face of this emergency, other tools and attitudes are needed. “Parents and educational institutions,” concludes Bonfiglio, “seem to be on the defensive, trying to control their children’s future by proposing the model of individual success as a solution to the question of identity and security. High performance and social competition create pressure, fear, exacerbate fragility and doubt. The risk is to destroy a generation’s creative and personal drive ‘. Giacomo’s words: “The main problem is individualism. Covid has pressured many of us to look only at ourselves, without being able to trust others, comrades and friends anymore. We are alone in front of the demands of school (you must read and have good grades) and society (study otherwise in life you will never succeed). So we are no longer a class, a group of friends, a group of students, but single in front of everything. And that makes us fragile and in the long run even uninterested in what is happening outside our small world.

13 July 2022 (amendment 14 July 2022 | 08.45)

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