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Experts note the impact of the pandemic on the mental health of young Germans



Berlin (Associated Press)-After two months of blockade, the “Bolina Dinner” returned to Berlin for the first time this week. The 9-year-old third-year student is happy to see her classmates and teachers again, but is concerned about the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on her life.

“I am not afraid of the coronavirus, I am worried that everything will continue like this-my school will be closed again, I will not be able to see my friends, and I cannot go to the movies with other people. My family,” the girl pointed to The blue medical mask sighed deeply. “Wearing this mask is even worse than closing all stores.”

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German psychiatrists, psychologists and pediatricians are becoming more vigilant, school closures, social restrictions and other preventive measures are exacerbating the fear, destruction and stress of the pandemic among 13.7 million children and adolescents in Germany, which increase future mental health The possibility of crisis.

Julia Asbrand, Professor of Child and Youth Psychology at Humboldt University in Berlin, said: “We have not conducted any long-term research, but there is a lot of anecdotal evidence that the crisis has led to an increase in hospitalization rates. Overflowing.” Associated Press.

A recent survey conducted by the Hamburg-Eppendorf University Medical Center found that about one-third of children suffer from pandemic-related anxiety or depression, or show psychosomatic symptoms such as headaches or stomach pains . The survey shows that children from poor families and immigrant families are the most affected.

Pollina immigrated from Russia with her family in 2019, but since she only speaks Russian at home, she is worried that she will forget a lot of German. She was one of 150 young people from poor families before the pandemic. After school, I often spend time in the youth support program in the eastern suburbs of the German capital.

Arche (Ark in English) is located in the Hellersdorf district of Berlin, a monotonous concrete building built during the communist regime of the former East Germany. Some children are still allowed to participate in person, but once every two weeks. For the rest of the time, social workers and educators try to keep in touch through video chats while helping their young clients with distance learning.

“Many people have completely evacuated and don’t want to leave their rooms anymore. They are becoming more and more important, are playing online games non-stop, and have no structure in their daily lives.” Arche founder Bernd Siggelkow said.

Germany’s second major blockade began before Christmas. Students in grades 1-3 are allowed to return to the classroom this week with a reduced number of classes and limited courses. The government hopes to relax restrictions in the coming weeks and says that reopening all schools is a top priority.

However, because the virus is more contagious, the country is falling into a third wave of infections. Virologists have repeatedly said that it is not yet clear how far the virus has spread from school children to families and communities. According to the German Center for Disease Control, more than 2 million people in Germany have been infected with the virus, and nearly 70,000 people have died of COVID-19, even though only 10 people are under the age of 20.

Experts say that although children are not at the same risk of serious COVID-19 complications as the elderly, they may be more susceptible to the collateral mental health effects of the pandemic.

The German health insurance company DAK’s analysis of young people’s psychological problems confirmed the first-person observation of Arche employees.

An assessment obtained by the German news agency dpa showed that the number of children and adolescents hospitalized in Berlin for psychiatric treatment almost doubled in the first half of 2020, while schools were closed for more than two months during the country’s first lockdown. Down in the first six months of 2019.

Christoph Correll, director of child and youth psychiatry at the Berlin Charity Hospital, told dpa that the statistics emphasized the psychological pressure of the pandemic on young people, but did not indicate the scope of the problem.

He said: “Hospitalization is the tip of the iceberg.”

Experts warn that adolescents, especially girls, are more susceptible to eating disorders and self-harm. Many children have psychological problems when their parents are at a loss and teachers, social workers, and pediatricians are not in regular contact with students, visitors, and patients. Undiscovered. .

Asbrand, a professor of psychology, worries that the mental health of children and adolescents during the pandemic has not been given enough attention. Together with other professionals in the field, in an open letter to the government this month, she urged that the needs of young people be better addressed in the ongoing health crisis and that they should be made a priority when society reopens.

The immediate action that government authorities can take to help alleviate possible problems is to allow groups to gather to participate in schools and youth sports based on hygiene and alienation precautions.

She said: “We don’t yet know how this will develop in the long term, but we must now focus on youth mental health.”

When 16-year-old Robin Reyer attended Arche this week for help with online assignments, he said that being unable to hang out with friends is one of the hardest parts of the pandemic’s restrictions.

“I want to celebrate my birthday again, go out and play football with my friends in the park, or meet them at Burger King,” he said while resting outdoors in the spring sunshine.

He said: “Right now, I can only see one friend at most.” “Really sucks.”


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