A silent epidemic in Italy is affecting almost 2 million children and young people, the alarm of neuropsychiatrists


In recent months, due to the pandemic, the mental well-being of minors has decreased by more than 10% worldwide, with children doubling below the threshold of discomfort. Anger and boredom increase, but also difficulty concentrating, the sense of loneliness and helplessness, stress and sleep disturbances. And even more severe pathologies such as eating disorders and self-harm

In Italy, neuropsychic disorders of developmental age affect almost 2 million children and young people, between 10 and 20% of the infant and adolescent population between 0 and 17 years, with very different manifestations in terms of type, course and prognosis.

Their incidence is on the rise, so much so that it is estimated that in less than ten years the number of children and adolescents followed in neuropsychiatry services has doubled.

These are the alarming data that SINPIA, the Italian Society of Child and Adolescent Neuropsychiatry, rattles off on the occasion of the National Day for the Promotion of Neuro-development last 11 May.

The doubled prevalence of neuropsychic disorders is certainly the expression of a trend already present in the previous 10 years – explains Antonella Costantino, Past President of SINPIA and Director of the Child and Adolescent Neuropsychiatry Unit (UONPIA) of the IRCCS Foundation “Ca ‘Granda ”Ospedale Maggiore Policlinico di Milano – however, the pandemic has shown how a decrease in collective attention to the neuropsychic needs of children and adolescents can have dramatic consequences on their mental health and their overall development, especially for those who already presented vulnerabilities.

To all this is added theincreasingly negative impact of economic inequalitiessocial, and cultural, in turn aggravated by further destabilizing events such as war, together with indifference, denial, misunderstanding, hostility and stigma, have a disruptive value in the increase of neuropsychiatric disorders.

The problems resulting from neuropsychic disorders of the developmental age are by now dramatic and tragically neglected, both in terms of implementing adequate prevention strategies and in terms of resources for treatment – concludes Elisa Fazzi. System resources and responses are needed, integrated and coordinated between education, social and health, in the context of a profound cultural change that opens up to innovation and the future, so that all children and young people with neurodevelopmental disorders and their families finally see recognized the right to appropriate and timely care and are guaranteed their maximum development potential.

What can we do? Children and adolescents find themselves in a developmental space where regular contact with their peers is of fundamental importance and are able to develop close and continuous relationships even with adults outside the home, such as their teachers or their coaches. Meanwhile, let’s try to talk to them and listen to them and let us help us recognize depression and learn the warning signs of extreme acts.

Let’s not lose sight of them!

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Source: SINPIA

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