New studies: Pandemic consequences for children devastating

According to the New York Times, the test results published on Thursday “clearly show the devastating effects” of the pandemic on American schoolchildren: for the first time since the introduction of the nationwide standardized tests in the 1970s, performance in mathematics deteriorated significantly. fell at the fastest rate in more than 30 years.

While the declines affected almost all income groups, they were significantly worse for the lowest performing students. The results of children from the lowest income families fell four times as much as the results of wealthy families.

Longer school closures in poorer areas

One reason for this is that American schools in poorer residential areas, especially in large cities, were closed longer and therefore relied on distance learning for longer. This also explains the particular decline in performance in black and Hispanic communities.

The US government has announced a huge $122 billion education investment package for schools, but it is unclear whether this will make up for the past two years of education deficits. There is also a shortage of teachers in some regions of the United States.

Germany: More depression in girls

An analysis of billing data from around 782,000 children and young people up to the age of 17, who are insured by the German health insurance company DAK-Gesundheit, shows similarly dramatic effects on another level. For example, the number of 15- to 17-year-old girls being treated for depression increased by 18 percent compared to the pre-coronavirus year of 2018, the health insurer said. According to the information, it was even 23 percent among the ten to 14-year-olds.

As the number of teenage girls newly diagnosed with depression increased, so did prescription drugs. According to DAK information, the proportion of 15- to 17-year-old girls with antidepressant treatment has increased by 65 percent in 2021 compared to 2019. In the case of drug treatment for eating disorders and anxiety disorders, the figures in 2021 have also increased by 75 and 19 percent, respectively. .

Boys are becoming more and more obese

In boys, on the other hand, the number of new cases of depression fell by 17 percent among 10-14-year-olds and by 15 percent among 15-17-year-olds. A similar picture emerges for eating disorders and anxiety disorders: while the number of treatments has increased significantly for girls, it has decreased for boys. But the number of severely obese children increased among them.

In the age group five to nine years, the number of obesity increased by a total of 14 percent in 2021, but boys were more affected. Among the 15 to 17-year-old boys there was even 15 percent more obesity, among girls in this age group six percent more. Both depression in girls and obesity in boys showed that children from low-income households were more affected.

Dramatic figures also in Austria

In Austria, Barbara Haid, president of the Federal Association for Psychotherapy (ÖBVP), warned on Wednesday that children and young people should “act rather than wait” when it comes to children’s and young people’s mental health. Every second young person in Austria now suffers from depressive symptoms. Suicidal thoughts, anxiety symptoms, sleep disturbances and problematic consumer behavior have increased sharply.

In the spring survey, 47 percent of all young people surveyed indicated that they needed professional support, with a particularly strong deterioration in families of low socio-economic status, with a migration background and those living in cramped living conditions.

Too few low-threshold offers

Only 181 school psychologists are available for around 1.1 million school children. Together with the Austrian League for Children and Adolescent Health (Children’s League) and the Austrian Society for Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (ÖGKJP), Haid expressed concern about the mental health of young people in Austria. Quick intervention is often crucial, the long waiting lists or waiting times at the checkout will further aggravate the problem.

Far too few low-threshold services on site at school are among the major challenges for psychosocial care at the start of the new school year. Although face-to-face education often offers advantages for disadvantaged children, many problems are already foreseeable. A common requirement is to expand and ensure long-term psychosocial care for students, parents and teachers.

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