Zinātnes uzdevums –
kalpot cilvēkiem.

– Tolstojs –

Zinātne – kapteinis, bet
prakse – kareivji.

– Da Vinči –

Zinātnes robežas līdzinās
apvārsnim: jo vairāk tam
tuvojamies, jo vairāk tas
attālinās.

– Buasts –

Fantazēt ir svarīgāk nekā
zināt.

– Alberts Einšteins –

Zinātne – tā ir
organizētas zināšanas.

– Spencers –

Brīvība zinātnei ir tas
pats, kas gaiss dzīvai
būtnei.

– Poincare –

Izpētes lauks zinātnē ir
neierobežots.

– Paskāls –

Uz zinātņu sistēmu
jāraugās kā uz dabas
sistēmu: viss tajā ir
bezgalīgs un viss
nepieciešams.

– Kivjē –

Zinātniskais plāns bez
darba hipotēzes ir kā
skelets bez dzīvas
miesas.

– Hiršfelds –

Galvenais cilvēces
izpētes priekšmets ir
cilvēks.

– Gēte –

Zinātnē viss ir svarīgs.

– Heine –

Grāmatām ir jābūt
zinātņu rezultātam, bet
ne zinātnēm – grāmatu
rezultātam.

– Bēkons –

Zinātnieks nav tas, kurš
sniedz pareizas atbildes,
bet gan tas, kurš nāk ar
īstiem jautājumiem.

– Klods Levī-Stross –

Jo neatlaidīgāk mēs
meklēsim patiesību ārpus
sevis, jo vairāk mēs
attālināsimies no tās. Jo
vairāk mēs spēsim izprast
to, kas mēs esam, jo
vairāk apliecināsim
patiesību sevī.
– Antonio Meneghetti –
Pirms dabai pavēlēt, tai
jāpaklausa.

– Bēkons –

Īsts zinātnieks nav tas,
kurš ir vairāk apguvis,
bet tas, kurš ir vairāk
sapratis.

– Leibnics –

Zinātne – zināt esības
darbību.

– Antonio Meneghetti –

Zinātne ir cilvēces
labdare.
– Bertelo –
Sākums » Jaunumi » Impact of the Pandemic and War in Ukraine on the Psychological Well-being of Latvian Youth

Impact of the Pandemic and War in Ukraine on the Psychological Well-being of Latvian Youth

Summary

In course of numerous studies, about 70% of young people in Latvia have recently experienced mental health problems and complications – depression or depressed mood, obsessive and disturbing thoughts, loneliness, exclusion from others and condemnation. Of these, only about one-fourth of young people consider their emotional well-being to be satisfactory. Adolescents indicate that they crave healthy support from their parents. In Latvia, consultations are offered by state-paid psychiatrists, psychologists, and psychotherapists, but waiting in line can last up to six months or more. It is planned to solve this problem with additional state funding, which will increase every year.

Introduction

The prolonged period of isolation caused by COVID-19, the intense debates over vaccination, and the ongoing war in Ukraine have highlighted several integration issues in Latvian society. Negative changes in young people’s behaviour and habits have been noticed by both teachers and youth workers – young people have become more closed, socialize less with classmates, and avoid greeting other peers. Thus, the incidence of mental disorders among young people is consistently increasing. Just before May – Mental Health Awareness Month – in numerous countries around the world, this month’s Society briefing will look at the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and the Ukrainian war on the mental health of Latvian children and young people, as well as the support options provided by the state.

I Mental Health Indicators

To analyse the mental health of young people and young people’s perception of society in Latvia, an extensive survey[1] was conducted among Latvian youth. Only 35% of young people believe that Latvia has an inclusive society. For 74 % of young people, it is important that their views are accepted. However, a significantly smaller share (47 %) of the surveyed admits that they are particularly good at accepting that others may have a different opinion or belief. The second largest – 50 percent – is only partially able to accept the difference. There are topics where the other’s point of view is harder to accept. Young people are freer to express their opinions among friends and at home (84 and 83 percent, respectively), while 61 percent can express their opinions freely among their peers, and 54 percent at school.

Regarding the mental health of young people in general, there are no significant improvements compared to the same survey conducted in 2021. Still, two thirds (66%) of young people admit to having experienced mental health problems in the last two weeks. In addition, an equivalent rate is observed in all age groups. The main mental health problems faced by young people are depression; difficulty learning or performing daily tasks; obsessive thoughts; irritability; feeling lonely or abandoned, among others. Compared to the previous year, physical health problems are significantly more often mentioned as one of the consequences of the pandemic period. Overall, the results show that only a quarter (26%) of young people surveyed consider their mental health to be good or exceptionally good. The vast majority are negatively affected.

In addition, a new study by the Adolescent Resource Centre of Latvia (ARC) shows that 70% of adolescents’ well-being depends on mutual trust in the family. Experts say mental health is a problem for about one in three young people, which means there will be at least three adolescents in each school and class who would benefit from specialist support.

When researching the functioning of young Latvian families, 75% of young people said that they feel very good at home, believing that the family is perceived as a resource that can help them in difficulties. Studies show that young people who did not have difficulty before the pandemic, even later, during the pandemic, were not able to continue their daily life normally. For young people in difficulty, their functioning quickly became critical. Mental health is a problem for about one in three young people, and one in three young people seek medical help.

When opening new branches in the ARC, long queues of teenagers for help are immediately formed,

the situation is described by the head of the ARC, Anete Masalska.

The service of the ARC was designed in such a way that no referral is required, a call is enough, often the adolescents call themselves. Girls make up 75% of all calls, while boys make up about 25%.

There is a growing debate in the public sphere that isolation, distance learning and distress caused by global issues are having negative health effects on young people. The ongoing hostilities in Ukraine also cause internal anxiety and panic among the people of Latvia. Unfortunately, one way, how the youth choose to ease stress, is drugs, and current observations are worrying. Specialists observe that young people in Latvia are increasingly using drugs – against the background of European countries, data and surveys show that young people aged 15 and 16 in Latvia use illicit drugs more often than the average in European countries combined, as well as the use of other drugs and over-the-counter medications is ever more increasing among young people, which poses a large-scale socio-economic issue.

II State-provided Support

To solve the above-described challenges of our time, the following types of state support are available in Latvia. First of all, there are consultations of a family doctor, who also has the right to give advice in case of mental illness and prescribe appropriate medications. Also, currently in Latvia, state-paid consultations of a psychologist and a psychotherapist with a referral from a family doctor are available, although in some cases one has to wait in line to see this specialist.

As the pandemic and the war prolong and exacerbate mental health problems, children and young people also have access to free psychiatric care. A psychiatrist is a direct access specialist, and a referral is not required, but a referral from another doctor is required for the first visit to be free. The state pays for health care services for the diagnosis, treatment, and medical rehabilitation of a person with mental and behavioural disorders according to the ICD-10[2] classification, including home visits by a psychiatrist to a psychiatric profile for patients who cannot visit a medical institution due to their health condition. Latvia has all medicines available in the EU for the treatment of depression and other mental disorders, including the most recent ones, which are also available with 75% state compensation.

In total, the Ministry of Health of the Republic of Latvia is receiving additional funding starting from 2021 to increase the availability of psychological assistance and mental health care services by reducing the negative impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and related socio-economic phenomena on the mental health of the population.

Additionally, in cases when a child or adolescent has difficulties at school or with studies, it is also possible to use the services of a school psychologist. The school psychologist can also give counselling to the family and the adolescent, helping to assess the situation and choosing the most appropriate support. However, such a specialist is not available in all Latvian schools. Municipal social services can offer a range of support options, including psychological counselling, participation in adolescent groups and parental training. Adolescents and parents often have a negative attitude, fearing (often unreasonably) about the leakage of information at school between teachers and classmates, as well as from high-risk clients in social services.

Psychological support for adolescents is provided by the ARC – a free psychologist service administered by the Children’s Hospital Foundation, as well as the crisis centre “Skalbes”. In crisis situations, there is a hotline for children and adolescents, which can be used by adolescents in crisis situations as well as by families or other professionals. The phone works around the clock, even on weekends. Consultations are available in Latvian, Russian and English.

Conclusions

Thus, young people consider modern issues as pressing, feel the challenges of mental health issues and give less and less importance to social contact. Research shows that young people with very good mental health are more likely to fully accept others, so parents, friends and peers have a key role to play in the inclusion process. Additional attention should be paid to the peer environment, as the study reveals that only one in four young people feels fully accepted there. In the last two weeks, 2/3 of Latvia’s young people have experienced mental problems, which is a worrying indicator, including young people who are afraid to seek help and try to find peace in the wrong ways like drugs, which can have a serious impact on the young person, parents, and society. State support is satisfactory compared to the current situation in Western European countries, but state-paid services tend to be of variable quality and with long waiting times. In 2021, the Ministry of Health decided to provide additional funding for the psychiatric sector, so the shortage of specialists and their competencies will potentially be resolved in the coming years.

References

  1. (2022, April 6). Aptauja: tikai 26 procenti jauniešu atzīst savu mentālo veselību par labu vai ļoti labu. delfi.lv. https://www.delfi.lv/calis/jaunumi/aptauja-tikai-26-procenti-jauniesu-atzist-savu-mentalo-veselibu-par-labu-vai-loti-labu.d?id=54220010
  2. LSM bērnu satura redakcija. (2022a, April 6). Pētījums: 47% jauniešu tikai daļēji spēj pieņemt atšķirīgu viedokli vai uzskatus. LSM.LV. https://www.lsm.lv/raksts/dzive–stils/vecaki-un-berni/petijums-47-jauniesu-tikai-daleji-spej-pienemt-atskirigu-viedokli-vai-uzskatus.a451285/
  3. LSM bērnu satura redakcija. (2022b, April 6). Psiholoģe: Ar garīgās veselības grūtībām saskaras katrs trešais pusaudzis. LSM.LV. https://www.lsm.lv/raksts/dzive–stils/vecaki-un-berni/psihologe-ar-garigas-veselibas-grutibam-saskaras-katrs-tresais-pusaudzis.a451324/
  4. LVportāls. (2022a). LV portāls – Cilvēks. Valsts. Likums. https://lvportals.lv/viedokli/334893-covid-19-un-psihiska-veseliba-iedzivotaji-biezak-patere-alkoholu-2021
  5. LVportāls. (2022b). LV portāls – Cilvēks. Valsts. Likums. https://lvportals.lv/norises/338236-nepaliec-sava-izmisuma-viens-psihoemocionals-atbalsts-saistiba-ar-karu-ukraina-papildinats-6-marta-2022
  6. Ministru kabinets. (2022). Iedzīvotāji ar psihiskās veselības sarežģījumiem var saņemt valsts apmaksātas psihologu konsultācijas. https://www.mk.gov.lv/lv/jaunums/iedzivotaji-ar-psihiskas-veselibas-sarezgijumiem-var-sanemt-valsts-apmaksatas-psihologu-konsultacijas
  7. Pusaudžu e-resursu centrs. (2022). Valsts apmaksāti | Pusaudžu e-resursu centrs. https://www.pusaudzim.lv/valsts-apmaks%C4%81ti
  8. Veselības ministrija. (2021). Informatīvais ziņojums “Par nepieciešamajiem pasākumiem 2021. gadam un turpmāk ik gadu, lai samazinātu ilglaicīgu negatīvo ietekmi uz sabiedrības psihisko veselību, ko rada COVID-19 pandēmija.” https://www.vm.gov.lv/lv/media/3459/download

[1] The survey was conducted by then international motivation program “MOT” together with the research agencies “Forta Research” and “Norstat” in February and March 2022

[2] International Classification of Diseases, 10th Revision

This briefing was written by the Institute of Economics of the Latvian Academy of Sciences, in collaboration with the China-CEE Institute, and is the intellectual property of the China CEE-Institute. The original publication is available here: https://china-cee.eu/2022/05/02/latvia-social-briefing-impact-of-the-pandemic-and-war-in-ukraine-on-the-psychological-well-being-of-latvian-youth/