The Zagreb University's Faculty of Rehabilitation and Education Sciences on Friday presented results of an extensive study revealing an alarming situation regarding the mental health of young people.
In a group of 30 high school students, two use marijuana once a week or more frequently and one in three drinks alcohol once a week or more frequently - these are some of the basic indicators which show that more frequent alcohol and marijuana consumption is accompanied by poorer indicators of mental health, project head Miranda Novak said.
One in four young people have significant symptoms of anxiety and stress, and in a class of 24, at least one says they have attempted to kill themselves, Novak said, describing the situation as alarming.
On the other hand, the higher the self-awareness, the fewer the symptoms and the less frequent alcohol and marijuana consumption.
Importance of developing self-awareness
Education and Science Minister Blazenka Divjak expressed support to the study and confidence that its results would have an impact on school and other social systems.
We have cooperated with the Faculty of Rehabilitation and Education Sciences on drawing up an action plan for the prevention of school violence and it is expected to be adopted by the government soon, she said, underling the importance of its implementation through the system of intervention, policies and programmes, she said.
She underlined the importance of developing self-awareness and peer solidarity and empathy to enable young people to identify problems on their own and deal with them, she said, recalling the introduction of a number of cross-subject topics in school curricula such as personal and social development, civics and health education.
Analyses of the data show that a more stable family environment contributes to fewer symptoms of depression, anxiety and stress and better emotional competencies and more positive mental health of young people, Novak said, adding that the results of the study showed that investing in the family environment contributed to the empowerment of young people.
As for the school environment, young people who are more emotionally competent are more willing to engage themselves with regard to school tasks and are more committed to school. Young people who are more committed to school show fewer symptoms of anxiety, she concluded.
The study also shows, among other things, that as many as 39% of young people witnessed peer violence once or more frequently over the past month, while 18% experienced it.