Every 10th child suffers from mental disorders



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Every tenth child in Germany suffers from mental disorders

Around one in ten adolescents in Germany suffer from mental disorders, reports the German Society for Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Psychosomatics and Psychotherapy at the start of this year's annual congress in Essen.

Around ten percent of children in Germany have clearly identifiable mental disorders and every fifth child is mentally abnormal, the experts explained at the annual congress of the German Society for Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. Prof. Johannes Hebebrand explained that mental disorders can also be expressed, for example, by refusing to go to school. In the long term, there is a significantly increased risk of mental illness for the children affected, according to the experts.

Annual congress on the subject of mental disorders in children and adolescents At this year's annual congress of the German Society for Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, more than 1,300 child and adolescent psychiatrists, neurologists, pediatricians and other specialists deal with the psychological problems of adolescents. At the beginning of the congress, the experts made it clear how large the number of children with mental illnesses is. The fact that every tenth mental disorder and even one in five shows a psychologically conspicuous behavior shows the psychological stress under which the adolescents are today. “Skipping school” is often a sign of possible mental disorders. "Refusal to go to school must be seen as a warning sign of possible psychological problems and can lead to significant development and integration problems for children and adolescents," emphasized Martin Knollmann from the "Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Outpatient Clinic for School Avoiding Behavior" in Essen.

Accordingly, refusal to go to school should be taken seriously as a sign of a possible mental disorder, because adequate therapy can only start if a corresponding diagnosis is available from a specialist. Without diagnosis and therapy, on the other hand, there is a risk that the mental disorders will manifest themselves as serious mental illnesses and massively affect those affected in their further development. "If (...) school fears or phobias are left untreated, the psychological problems usually persist and can subsequently lead to additional disorders," emphasized Martin Knollmann. This creates a serious cycle that is difficult to break therapeutically later.

School refusal is a mental problem According to the experts at the congress of the German Society for Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, the causes of school refusal behavior can vary greatly depending on the age group. In early childhood, fear-related school refusal predominates, e.g. causes through the separation of parents or through excessive demands in everyday school life. The psychological problems are often accompanied by abdominal and headaches. If the symptoms are not recognized and treated, this can lead to further development problems up to adolescence. As adolescents, those affected often show disorders of social behavior, rule violations or depression, according to the presentation at the annual congress of the German Society for Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. Various studies in the past have also shown that the consequences of mental disorders can extend into adulthood. For example, people who suffered from mental health problems as children and adolescents were more likely to be unemployed later in life. Those affected also tend to be more criminal and suffer more from other mental illnesses such as depression, the experts at the German Society for Child and Adolescent Psychiatry explained.

Taking children's problems seriously Congress President Prof. Frank Hässler from the University of Rostock also explained that psychological abnormalities today show fewer gender differences than a few years ago. For example, boys are increasingly affected by eating disorders such as anorexia, Prof. Hässler reported. According to the specialist, strong self-confidence is particularly helpful in order to avoid the occurrence of mental disorders or to remedy them. According to the expert, parents can also help their children gain confidence here. So parents should trust their children to do more difficult things and give them honest compliments. The children should also be made aware that nobody is perfect in order to relieve them of the often hardly bearable pressure to perform. Parents should also be advised against further increasing the pressure to perform without thinking, because this can be counterproductive, especially with regard to school performance. It is important to take the children's problems seriously and to convey the feeling of being on the side of support. How far-reaching the problem is was shown by a recently published Forsa study, according to which every second schoolchild in Germany suffers from stress symptoms due to increased pressure to perform. Experts from the GEW teachers' union often hide serious mental problems behind physical symptoms such as back pain or abdominal pain.

In order to be able to help the children, more intensive basic research is necessary in the long term. Only with the discovery of the first tendencies and further empirical research can diagnosis and therapy begin and possible consequences avoided at an early stage. (fp)

GEW expert warns of excessive pressure to perform
Every second student suffers from stress
Many children go to school without breakfast
More and more children have back pain

Image: Jens Weber / pixelio.de

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