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Young People Affected by Anxiety and Depression

Anxiety and depression are currently among the major health problems affecting younger people, states Isabel Fragoeiro, President of the School of Health of the University of Madeira (UMa) and coordinator of the Regional Observatory of Mental Health of Madeira (ORSM-RAM), which defends the importance of good parenting for children and adolescents.

Depression can lead to suicide, says Isabel Fragoeiro, who considers it crucial to create conditions “throughout development, from the initial stages to the end of our life, that reinforce people’s internal forces. Let us take into account that childhood and adolescence are very important development phases, due to puberty and the social transition from childhood to adolescence, and therefore, young people must have someone to turn to, to discuss their fears.”

Speaking at the international conference on the theme ‘Globalisation, Transculturality, Integration: what challenges for mental health and education’, which took in the auditorium of the Rectory of the University of Madeira (UMa). The objective of the event was to identify factors that promote mental health, as well as mobilisable strategies for better adaptation and integration; strengthen cross-cultural sensitivity in the health and education sectors; promote the acceptance of interpersonal and intercultural differences and value the importance of individual mental health and communities of positive communication, among others.

Frequent problems with adaptation and integration. 

With regard to this, Isabel Fragoeiro recalled that the number of international students has been increasing, adding that problems of adaptation and integration are the most common among displaced students.
“These are situations that derive from a set of changes that occur at the same time because when a person moves, even if it is to study, this changes their entire standard of living, and they have to adapt.  In certain circumstances, when there are personal vulnerabilities, and if their new environment feels hostile, there may be situations where students will need additional support. Something that the university is already doing.

Assessment of the Observatory

Already taking stock of the Regional Observatory of Mental Health of Madeira, created in 2019, through a partnership between UMa and SESARAM, intending to contribute to the continued study of the evolution that has occurred in the field of mental health at the regional level, Isabel Fragoeiro found that the structure has sought to strengthen the relationship between the various services, to act according to the needs of each person.

She acknowledges, however, that it is necessary to compile epidemiological data in the area of mental health to characterise the situation more objectively.

More than 50% of mental health illnesses begin during adolescence.

“More than 50 percent of mental health diseases begin during adolescence,” stated Pedro Ramos, Regional Secretary for Health and Civil Protection, this afternoon, noting that these problems can be found in 10 to 20 percent of young people with higher rates among disadvantaged groups of the population.

It is therefore important, he argued, to guarantee mechanisms for early detection through the educational system, to provide programmes that identify problems, promote training for professionals, and prevention programmes, among others.

Pedro Ramos recalled the need to improve the population’s database concerning mental health. “And this is where the observatory should come into play, which I hope will become more and more successful,” He went on to state that “there are no barriers in the Region in dealing with this issue.”

It should be noted that the Regional Observatory of Mental Health of Madeira, created in 2019, in a partnership between UMa and SESARAM, emerged intending to contribute to the continued study of the evolution of mental health (problems) at a regional level, aiming at policy adaptation, strategies, and lines of action defined within the area.

Samantha Gannon

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