Due to the pandemic, there are more and more children and young people with mental health problems

Potsdam. The concern for Potsdam’s children and young people is growing. After about two and a half years in the coronavirus pandemic, help, counseling and therapy services in the state capital are fully utilized. The Social Education Institute Berlin (SPI) and the Academy of Psychotherapy and Intervention Research at the University of Potsdam (API) are fully booked – for the next year and a half, said Stefanie Buhr, Potsdam’s coordinator for children and young people’s interests in most recent social committees: “The system will break down immediately. “

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The Children and Youth Hotline counted 10,000 calls in Potsdam in 2021

Birte Freudenberg, head of the children and youth hotline in Potsdam, and her team see how urgent the needs of the younger Potsdamer are every day. “I can confirm: the phone is not standing still,” Birte Freudenberg told the committee. “Last year we had almost 10,000 calls in Potsdam alone – that’s 3,000 calls more than the year before.”

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The volunteers and predominantly young people on the children and youth hotline are there, they listen and think together with those who seek advice about what can help them. The motto: help for self-help. “We want to mobilize children and young people to get support for themselves,” says Birte Freudenberg. “That means we’re often the first place they look for offers, relieve themselves, confide in them.”

Isolation, domestic violence and more depressing problems in Potsdam

In the pandemic, depressing problems arose – above all the issue of isolation, but also the experience of domestic violence. A concrete example: A nine-year-old boy turns to the phone: There has been a quarrel in the family, the quarrel escalates, both parents drive away in their cars – leaving the child in the kitchen. The boy does not know when his parents will return, what to eat, and certainly not how to treat what he has just experienced. “In this situation, the nine-year-old boy is calling. He may have heard of this number at school or seen it in the tram.”

The number against grief

The children’s and young people’s telephone can be contacted on 116111 Monday to Saturday from 2 pm to 8 pm – nationwide, anonymously and free of charge from mobile phones and landlines.

Anyone who prefers to write rather than speak can choose online counseling around the clock and also for free at www.nummergegenkummer.de. The advisors respond as quickly as possible, usually within one to two days. nf

However, the consultants also encounter other serious issues on a daily basis. “These are topics such as sexual abuse or suicide,” says Birte Freudenberg. “For example, a young person who had suicidal thoughts approached us who does not know what to do but wants to live – just not as he lives now.” In the search for answers, he addresses the children’s and young people’s hotline. “We are a small project that can make a big difference,” says Birte Freudenberg. “The need is increasing. In order for the work to remain stable, we need support. ”

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The SPD wants to make offers of help in Potsdam more visible

Tiemo Reimann knows that too. He sits on the Potsdam SPD in the City Council (SVV) and is also a child psychologist. Reimann has repeatedly stressed the importance of low-threshold help services, which include the child and youth helpline, but also the women’s helpline; only in the last SVV did he submit an application to increase their visibility. “Most people in Potsdam do not know about the offers of help, they endure their suffering until the pressure keeps growing and then the low-threshold help is no longer sufficient.” But then patients are faced with the long waiting lists of therapists.

Bring health professionals and psychologists to Potsdam’s schools

At the same time, the psychologist goes for a different approach and wants to hire trained specialists in new positions. “When it comes to children, we schools need to think multi-professionally,” he says. The proposal: bring teams of health workers and school psychologists to schools. “It can be compared to school social work, which fortunately has long been a fixed standard,” says Tiemo Reimann. He imagines that the development of such a network should be based on the use of social workers, who were initially posted to schools with a particularly great need for help and then gradually distributed throughout the city. “First and foremost, it has to happen where the cabin is burning,” he says.

Consequences for Potsdam’s economy

The implementation of such projects would initially be possible only with pilot character. “It would be a start,” says Tiemo Reimann. “The big problems that many children and young people have today are only postponed if there is no help.” It will also weaken the economy in the long run. “But above all, you have to see it as a human being. We must help these children now. ”

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By Nadine Fabian and Saskia Kirf

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