According to school psychologists: help from a family doctor

According to school psychologists: help from a family doctor



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School psychologists often get help from their family doctor
10.06.2014

As a current study shows, adolescents with a mental disorder often receive help from family or pediatricians after visiting a school psychologist and are given general medical care there. According to the evaluation, those affected rarely contact specialists directly.

Signpost in the health care system Almost every second German citizen becomes mentally ill at least once in a lifetime. A significant proportion of all children and adolescents also suffer from a mental disorder at some point during their school days. School psychologists could then be an important first point of contact for them. If treatment - such as psychotherapy - is needed for the pupils, this is usually not carried out directly by the school psychologists themselves. Ideally, they should point the way through the health system so that those affected can find therapeutic help from specialists. A recent study shows that this is often not the case.

Adolescents with mental disorders seek help from a general practitioner Children and adolescents with a mental disorder often sought help in the classic body medicine health sector after consultation with school psychologists, especially from their general practitioner or pediatrician. After visiting the school psychologist, those affected would be less likely to contact therapists and doctors who specialize in mental disorders. A research group led by PD Dr. Marion Tegethoff from the Faculty of Psychology at the University of Basel as part of a project funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation. For the study, the scientists analyzed the data from a representative sample from the USA, consisting of 6,483 students between the ages of 13 and 18. The results were published in the specialist magazine "PLOS ONE".

Those affected take advantage of offers such as self-help groups or telephone hotlines. The researchers also found that those affected more often also took advantage of other offers anchored in the health sector, such as telephone hotlines, self-help groups and family help. However, the visit of a school psychologist had no influence on whether those affected subsequently sought help from doctors and psychotherapists specializing in mental disorders. Even though these specialists are specialists in the treatment of children and adolescents with mental disorders.

Findings were gained in the USA The researchers interpret this result as an indication that US school psychologists are already making a valuable contribution to improving care for those affected. Ms. Tegethoff said: "However, it remains to be seen whether cooperation between school psychologists and psychotherapists, as well as doctors who specialize in mental disorders, should be further strengthened in order to optimize the aid." Further analyzes should show to what extent it is in the USA let the knowledge gained be transferred to other countries. There are so far no studies in many countries that could provide answers.

School psychologists in Germany In Germany, school psychology is not a compulsory task in all countries. Comprehensive care was demanded again and again, such as after the Erfurt killing spree in 2002, but in reality there are still completely underserved areas. And while in other countries school psychologists are naturally part of a school's competence teams and therefore know the stories of many students, but also the problems of teachers, it is the rule here in Germany that they are psychologists with a university degree in central counseling centers and therefore far away of everyday school life. (ad)

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