The crisis of adolescents challenges families and schools

These first months of face-to-face classes were difficult for 7-year-old Raphael, in his second year of elementary school at a state school in Itime, east of Sao Paulo. He complained of shortness of breath and palpitations. Always ask the teacher when the class will end. Sometimes biting the index finger; It does not bleed, but there are tooth stains on the skin.

Gastrointestinal problems with signs of blood in the stool. When his mother, Pala, comes to pick him up, she notices that her son is holding back tears. She just cries with mom. At home, it’s quiet on the sofa. There are already three medical certificates for an anxiety crisis identified in the emergency room, each one a week. Raphael began meeting with a psychologist.

The plight of Raphael and Paula (parents and students’ names used in the report are fictional) illustrates the psychological difficulties that parents and educators have among students, from public and private networks, almost two years away or after hybrid classes, as the same epidemic is observed outside Brazil. – In the United States, the new situation has caught the attention of the authorities.

Brazil was one of the countries that spent the most time off school, and many managers were criticized for prioritizing bars and concerts over the periodic reopening of trade and services to reduce coronavirus infection. Experts say that the reduction of social interaction without virtual means and prolonged use of the screen is the background of these difficulties. Some children develop phobias or insecurities about the unpredictability of face-to-face interactions. For the youngest, direct communication has been almost a novelty.

Experiences at home – such as relatives’ illnesses, unemployment, financial difficulties and even domestic violence – are also among the hypotheses to explain the damage to mental health. Also, students and teachers come back to school with the mission of filling in the lost time and overcoming the learning loss during distance classes. On the other hand, most experts have noted that this is a critical period.

Collective suffering

In Parnambuko, the pain turned into a collective drama in early April. Twenty-six students at AGU Magalhasse High School Reference School north of Recife were treated by the Mobile Emergency Care Service (SAMU), including shortness of breath, shivering and crying spells. Reportedly, one student went out feeling sick and the others started crying. According to doctors, the youngsters were treated at the scene after a crisis of general anxiety, including “sweating, low saturation and tachycardia”. He was not admitted to the hospital.

Recife Norte Regional Education Management Manager Neuza Pontes says she has not seen such an episode in her 29 years of experience. “Experts say a joint hysteria and anxiety crisis is possible. It was a domino effect, like an infection,” he compares. Classes resumed on the 11th, but not all students returned.

Students already have problems with statistics. The S সাo Paulo Department of Education and the Ayrton Military Institute released a survey this year where seven out of ten public school students reported high levels of anxiety and depression symptoms during the Covid-19 crisis. The data do not indicate a closed medical diagnosis, but symptoms that require more attention.

Of the 642,000 primary and 3rd grade students in 5th and 9th grade who took part in the study, more than 440,000 reported mental health problems. “There are a number of variables involved, because this is a multifaceted context. But, based on this diagnosis, we understand that students need help,” said Katarina Seth, an integral education specialist at the Ayrton Army Institute.

The problem manifests itself even in small samples. At Centro Educacional Pioneiro in Villa Clementino, south of Sao Paulo, educators have already provided 210 socio-psychological services to elementary II students (ages 10 to 14) this year. The amount is already close to 250 support – last year’s total. “These are problems that already existed, but we noticed that they are becoming more and more prevalent,” said Mario Fiorenelli Neto, the education coordinator, who blamed the increase on “the student’s disconnection from school when he encounters it.” Oriented activities “.

Psychiatrist Rodrigo Bresan, professor of medicine (Unifesp) at the Federal University of Sওo Paulo, went further. “We don’t go back to the same place after the epidemic. For the students, it’s another school,” he said. “The challenge is like the beginning of an epidemic, of getting out of a comfortable zone. Similarly, entering an epidemic was worrying (capable of causing anxiety), so it is going away,” says author Saúde Mental na Escola in the book – What Educators Need to Know.

Mariana, a 12-year-old student at a private school in Sao Paulo, had already shown some anxiety attacks at home during the epidemic. On the first day of the quarterly exam last month, she started crying and the teacher noticed that she was shaking. The girl left the room. The mother was called in a hurry and the 8th class student went home. He did not go to school for the whole week of exams.

Academics communicate with families. After many conversations, where they tried to take the mental weight off the assessment, the young woman took the test in the second call. The girl’s performance was poor, but she passed the test, which was a landmark in the eyes of the teachers.

After this crisis, he became twice more anxious and asked to leave immediately. It was taken care of. Today, the girl continues her psychological follow-up during the epidemic.

Tiago, on the other hand, becomes sad and isolated. The 11-year-old had many friends at a private school on the East Side, with the whole house on the weekends. Isolated, everything was empty. Mom, a 38-year-old teacher, tried to alleviate the problem by buying a video game. It worked for a while, but today she just wants to play and focus all her friendships on online conflicts. When he returns from a weekend or holiday, he has a running heart and a headache. “She says the epidemic has stolen her childhood,” her mother said.

Estadão Rosely Sayão’s educator and columnist assesses that socio-psychological difficulties involve society as a whole with the resumption of face-to-face activities, but children and adolescents have fewer filters than adults and, therefore, reveal their difficulties more. He shares the same views with Lucien Togneta, an educator at the State University of Palestine (UNSP), who had already hoped for an “emotional epidemic.” He compared the pressure on schools and teachers to adapt quickly to post-quarantine with the plight of hospitals and doctors suffering from the onset of the health crisis.

New routine

Faced with challenging situations, which educators classify as “accommodation episodes” or “reappetitions”, some schools create new routines in the area and improve existing programs. Colégio Dante Alighieri, Jardins, in the central region of Sওo Paulo, who only knew each other through the screen and organized a week-long reunion to welcome newcomers. It also hired a physical educator and an entertainer to bring students together during breaks around group games and open spaces.

“It’s a way for them to isolate themselves from cell phone screens. The idea is for children to regain their playing skills in a larger group,” explains educator Miriam Guimeres, the school’s educational guidance coordinator.

Some schools accept changes for exam periods, a moment of greatest excitement for students – after all, it was almost two years with virtual exams. Colégio Carandá in Mirandopolis, within Sওo Paulo, began to be combined with experimental activities outside of the traditional curriculum, such as dance workshops and Capoeira games. “These are leisure moments, the ones they offer themselves and the ones the professors offer. These are not part of the classic curriculum,” said director Anna Christina Dunkirk.

In state schools, educators want to bring students and teachers closer to mental health professionals. Aarton Senna Integral Education Specialist Anna Juanazzi highlights the need for interdisciplinary work in the areas of health, education and social support.

The Secretary of Education in Sao Paulo, Reynolda Perez, said that by June, about 100 psychologists would be working privately on regional education boards. Programs for improving coexistence and school safety (Conviva) provide services for students in schools and, in some cases, for teachers.

In Parnambuco, the Department of Education will promote regular meetings between psychologists and students and their families. Measurements should be taken across state networks, not just in the unit where the outbreak occurred. Also, studies are being done to include socio-emotional learning disciplines in the high school curriculum. Regional Education Manager Neuza justifies “We feel the need to work with teachers to work on students’ socio-psychological skills”. Students who already have a history of anxiety were referred for medical follow-up.

Eye to eye

For the family, learning how to work is a difficult task. “Even with emotional connections, parents should try to keep themselves away from understanding the challenge,” said Bresan Guide, coordinator of the Kuka Legal program, focusing on mental health in school. “Complaining about school doesn’t help much, for example, and just look at the difficulties,” he continued.

Psychologist Adriana Severin says it’s important to talk to your kids – without interrupting them or seeing messages on your cell phone during the conversation. “An eye-to-ear conversation will show how parents can intervene, whether they are afraid of the virus or have difficulty establishing a relationship,” he said.

The clock

Pay attention to sleep quality, if your baby wakes up often at night and has difficulty sleeping;

? Behavior changes, such as crying spells and pain, also require attention;

? Fatigue, lack of strength and enthusiasm;

? Density drop (often being ‘off’);

? Extra time in front of the screen (computer, cell phone and television);

? Class attendance (many absences should start thinking);

? Talk to the teacher to find out how the child is doing in school;

? Excessive eating habits (going for hours on end with or without eating a lot);

? Ask friends if they are real or virtual – ideally, there is a significant majority of friends who can be defined as ‘concrete’;

? See a mental health professional (psychologist or psychiatrist).

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