Immaculate Martinez | Valencia (EFE) as a request for help from the minor.
There is not a single determining factor, but rather a host of factors that must be analyzed in order to put figures on this increase, but it is true that the 2020 crisis has caused more cases, according to EFE, the clinical psychologist of the Children’s Mental Health Unit and the Adolescent from the Clínico-Malvarrosa de València health department, Nieves Hermosín.
Although it is unknown which part of the cases have arisen after the pandemic and which already existed before, the greater visibility given today to mental health leads to the detection of this increase, which has been influenced “much as a society” by the experience of a period of confinement, of isolation, which in young people has meant “two very turbulent years on an emotional level from which they have to compose themselves,” he explains.
In the educational field, all cases are reported where there is some type of alert, such as self-injurious behaviors, whose purpose is to regulate emotions and which can be very alarming and can be shown by cutting oneself or any other type of damage. self inflicted.
In educational centers there is a specific protocol for activating cases based on alerts and there is more awareness about it, points out the expert, who places adolescence as the most critical stage in which the need for social interaction and bonding with the peer group.
“Whoever wants to does not get sick, a single factor is not enough for suffering to appear, but there are many factors that at a given moment come together so that it can appear” and the pandemic has been one of the main triggers at a cultural and social level.
Cases are being seen in which self-injurious behavior is shown as a way of emotional regulation to calm discomfort as a compensation, cushioning, relief mechanism, and from the clinical point of view they are seen as a way of trying to mobilize a request help to the environment.
Social isolation has been a key factor in the arrest of social development in children and adolescents, also in adults, but young people have experienced it in a critical period of their development and in the cases that present problems it is due to multiple factors such as personal vulnerability, predisposing factors, aspects of personality or related to upbringing, genetics, high social needs and others.
The expert points out that the adolescent crisis appears in other times of humanity, although currently “there is more talk” about mental health and in the last two years the data shows an upward trend with a high variability of symptomatic manifestations.
Pediatric help requests
Mental health units are receiving requests for help from paediatrics or family doctors which, in some cases, result in home confinement, and hospital admissions for these problems have increased.
The expert points out the need to differentiate between the different manifestations of the behavior of harming oneself, which can range from self-injurious behavior (self-inflicting harm) to thoughts about death, suicidal ideation, suicide attempt and completed suicide. It is up to Mental Health specialists (clinical psychologists and psychiatrists) to assess the severity and risk of these behaviors.
Make problems visible
The clinical psychologist highlights the importance of giving visibility to mental health issues, given that talking about it generates greater mobilization and greater notification of cases, and rules out that it necessarily has an effect of imitation.
“Someone who does not want to commit suicide, does not commit suicide because there is talk of suicides. What does happen is that discomfort can be shared and, sometimes, the group acts as an emotional catalyst, ”he points out.
In his opinion, we need to talk about emotions, emotional discomfort, and ask for help when we need it.
However, she recognizes that there may be an effect of behavioral imitation due to identification with the peer group in other behaviors: if my friend says that she wants to die, it may be that I also dare to express my discomfort and we talk about it or act similarly. , but insists that “whoever wants to does not get sick, but who can.”
“You have to handle these issues very sensitively. Talking about suicide, yes, but being sensitive to the needs, ”she declares.
Training to prevent
Ideally, families should be trained to know how to act; The expert advises listening to the adolescent, “validating the emotion” and not downplaying it, on the contrary: recognizing it and containing it, since it is the families who know the minor best.
Also evaluate the demand for help: if a father or mother feels lost and does not know how to handle the problem, they should ask for help, which can be a mental health unit, a clinical psychologist or psychiatrist, or also, on the front line, consult a teacher in case something is happening at school.
And from the educational centers?
Hermosín affirms that teachers can be distressed by mental health situations because, since they do not have specific training in this regard, they cannot assess the seriousness of the real risk or the urgency of the intervention and are overwhelmed and overwhelmed.
Class groups and schools function as a system, and it is necessary to intervene on this to identify and prevent certain dynamics if necessary. And it should always be done with the appropriate specialized resources through Educational Guidance, the educational psychologist and vice-dean of the Official College of Psychology of the Valencian Community (COPCV), Andrea Ollero, told EFE.
In such a complex problem, once emotional problems or autolytic behaviors are detected, it is necessary to carry out a comprehensive and effective intervention, so that in addition to the clinical part, one has to work in the context in which the young person spends the most time and in relational contexts, that is, in educational centers and with families.
The College of Psychology considers it essential that educational centers, both for infants and primary schools, as well as institutes, have psychology professionals in the Educational Guidance service, since it is currently configured as a specialized support teacher teaching model that does not guarantee that They are professionals in this discipline.
Any graduate or graduate, regardless of the specialty of their degree, can access through opposition to be an educational counselor, he points out.
The municipal psycho-pedagogical offices carry out a fundamental task in prevention in educational centers, and they are local resources that make it possible to have knowledge of the context and the interrelationship between centers and the educational community, and municipal and regional services. EFE