More and more young people in SH feel psychologically stressed – News
9 mins read

More and more young people in SH feel psychologically stressed – News

As of: January 18, 2024 3:07 p.m

Before the corona pandemic, one in five young people felt psychologically stressed; today it is almost one in three. Getting a place for therapy is almost impossible. Experts are calling for young people to be better supported through a “mental health” subject.

by Corinna Below

The high school in Bad Segeberg (Segeberg district) had requested. Now they are here. The volunteer experts from the “Psychiatry on the Move” association. The young people in a 9th grade class at the Dahlmann School sit in a circle. “Today we’re talking about mental illnesses, but also about addictions.” After the chairwoman of the association, Andrea Rothenburg, introduced herself and her team, she immediately involved the students. She wants to know what mental illnesses they know: “Depression, I think you’ve all heard about it.” Some are coming forward. They know depression and schizophrenia. “I know there is such a thing,” says Bela. He thinks it’s important that they learn more here, “because we’re all human beings. And it can happen to anyone.”

Tired student © Photo: LVDESIGN

AUDIO: Psychological problems: Hardly any therapy places for children in SH (1 min)

Students’ impression: There is less talk about it

Andrea Rothenburg first provides theoretical input: What mental illnesses are there? What exactly is an addiction? She shows educational videos that she made with those affected. The young people are very attentive. Nobody laughs, nobody bothers. On the contrary – Marie is grateful that she can take part in this workshop today. “I think it’s super important because a lot of people, especially now at this age, have problems with it. And there’s very, very little talk about it.”

The back of a woman who is talking to young people.  © NDR Photo: NDR

Most of what they learn in the workshop is new for the young people.

Too few therapy places

Every now and then, headmaster Timm Emser comes in and sits down. He is curious. Bringing the “Psychiatry on the Move” team to the school is just a first step. “We see that more and more students need help but are not getting it,” he says. The supply system is not designed to handle the increased numbers, he says. Child psychiatrist Anna Vetter confirms his impression. She is chief physician for child and adolescent psychiatry at the Elmshorn regional clinics (Pinneberg district). “We still have a long waiting list and not enough options to provide patients with the quick care they actually need.”

Many young people feel excluded

Those who come to her clinic have anorexia, depression, and hurt themselves or others. The so-called Copsy study, for which the Hamburg University Hospital (UKE) has surveyed 1,000 children and young people between the ages of 11 and 17 once a year since the Corona pandemic, says: Where before Corona, every fifth child felt psychologically stressed, Today it is every third. For Anna Vetter, the Corona lockdown was just the “burning glass,” as she calls it, the accelerator.

She sees the problem primarily in smartphones and social media. The young people focused “their brains on whiz, whiz, whiz and on endorphin release,” she says. In this way, addiction programming is anchored in the young brain. The young people received impulses from a device via their smartphone. “They are never bored, they never go out looking and see what there is to find in the world.” They wouldn’t get to use the other senses. “They can’t learn social skills from a cell phone.” She sees the consequences of this incorrect development every day in her treatment room.

There is one at the UKE Outpatient clinic for the early detection and treatment of mental disorders in young people.

Anna Vetter is the chief physician for child and adolescent psychiatry at the Elmshorn regional clinics.  © NDR Photo: NDR

The child psychiatrist Anna Vetter makes it clear: There are too few therapy places.

Demand: a teaching subject as a preventive measure

Every third child is affected. The therapists in private practice, clinics and outpatient help cannot cope with this, says Vetter. That’s why she calls for schools to be made responsible for comprehensive health prevention. According to its own statements, the Schleswig-Holstein Ministry of Education has responded to the problem and, among other things, set up advisory services and opportunities for further training for teachers.

That’s not enough, says Andrea Rothenburg. There must be a school subject that all students can reach. “This topic is very close to my heart because I see the plight of young people who are left alone with their problems and have to deal with excessive demands.” They would hardly seek support on their own because they are not sufficiently informed. “And we know,” the activist adds, “the sooner psychological stress is treated, the better it is.” This can prevent them from solidifying.

VIDEO: Workshops on mental health in schools (4 min)

Those affected tell the young people about their ordeal

Andrea Rothenburg brought two so-called experience experts with her. Melanie Gotschnig has borderline personality disorder, which means she has several psychological disorders. She tells the young people her story, including that she took drugs, hurt herself and was in the clinic 20 times. But she was already sick as a child. Unfortunately, she had no help at the time. A student asks, “How old were you when you knew you had this disorder?”

Verena Klose stands next to a box she made herself and tells a group her story.  © Corinna Below Photo: Corinna Below

Verena Klose built a “biography box” in the psychiatric ward, which she uses to tell her story.

The students have many questions. Each will be answered. Verena Klose also talks about her bipolarity. She explains that she has both depressive phases and manic phases and what that means. One student says that she knows people who feel the same way.

Those affected tell – students learn

After three hours the workshop is over and the young people take stock. “It made me very emotional,” says Luisa. She has learned that if the worst comes to the worst, she should find someone to talk to. Max thought it was “very good that we gained insight through those affected talking.” Andrea Rotenburg and her team agree with the school and the students: there should be a “mental health” subject or at least workshops like this on a regular basis and for all students. The team will definitely be back next month to train the teachers.

It is important that parents notice changes in their child, says child psychiatrist Anna Vetter. The first signs would be, for example, if the child is normally well-balanced but now reacts aggressively or if they are actually self-confident and lively and suddenly become extremely withdrawn and deeply sad. Parents should talk to their children, regularly ask with genuine interest how they are doing, invite them to talk about their feelings in order to find out how bad they are feeling. Does it have irrational fears, has it developed compulsions? Is it hurting itself?

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