Inflation, war and climate crisis: why children and young people suffer most from crises - and what helps them

The current figures give the impression that children and young people in particular are suffering from the crises of this time.

Inflation, war and climate crisis: why children and young people suffer most from crises - and what helps them

The current figures give the impression that children and young people in particular are suffering from the crises of this time. Why is that, Mr. Lioznov?

Philipp Lioznov: Children and young people are still in the middle of their development. One's own identity, character and the entire personality structure are still being formed, and the brain is only fully developed at around the age of 25. As a result, children and young people react very sensitively to changes, including crises.

But some children are still getting through the turbulent times quite well...

Exactly. How well young people cope with crises depends largely on whether their basic needs are met or not. This can be something basic like attachment, but also the need for the world to be manageable. In addition, young people who find it harder to get through crises often lack the appropriate resources and experience to deal with these situations. They are then dependent on their caregivers to show them how to cope with such times.

How do I recognize that a young person is struggling with the current times?

Children and young people often show mental imbalances differently than adults. At best, adults can clearly communicate what they need to do to get better. Young people often do not address this directly, but become behavioral problems or withdraw completely. Rarely will a child say, "Mom, I need therapy"—but it will come in a different form that needs to be recognized.

Parents and other family members should therefore pay attention to changes in behavior. What else helps young people to master crises well?

As a first step, I would definitely seek a conversation and ask how the person is really doing, what moves him and whether he needs anything. A fundamentally open approach to crises can also signal to the young person that it is okay if you are struggling with it. Here it is also perfectly fine to communicate that you may be having difficulties dealing with the stress yourself. It is therefore important to set a good example and treat the child or young person with open, respectful and understanding attention.

Let's look beyond the individual box: what do we need as a society to support young people?

Politicians should definitely invest more money to increase the range of therapies for children and young people. For example, by expanding cash register seats for appropriate psychotherapists. We also need a lot more education in schools and more attention to the topic in general. Above all, the psychotherapeutic offers must be visible where the children are - and this is still happening far too little.

In your experience, where is the best place to reach young people?

Many of them get their information about mental health on Instagram, Facebook and Tiktok these days. This is of course a curse and a blessing at the same time. On the one hand, young people are sometimes very well informed about mental health because there is a lot of good content in this area. Young people in particular often recognize for themselves when something is changing mentally. That's a great development.

And what is the curse in this context?

On the other hand, psychologizing young people is of course difficult. The constant presence and dealing with mental health often creates the pressure that you always have to feel good. It is quite normal for everyone to have bad phases in life from time to time.

How do times of crisis like the current one affect young people in the long term?

Whether and how well children and young people survive times of crisis depends on numerous factors. Those who already had a difficult time beforehand will tend to come through the crisis less well. In rare cases and with the appropriate disposition, there is a risk of developing depression or post-traumatic stress disorders. But crises at least offer the opportunity to grow in the long term. Many people report that looking back they have become stronger through difficult times and have discovered new resources that could help them in the further course of life.

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