Corona Siegen: Because so many children are afraid of school

Fear of classmates, pressure to perform, illness – children with mental health problems were neglected during the pandemic. Now he is taking revenge.

When the first block came, there were patients “in whom we held our breath,” says child and adolescent psychotherapist Christin Henrich. There was no school attendance, there was no contact outside the home, and in the isolation, the painstakingly crafted successes of treatment vanished. “We knew that after four weeks in some cases we would start from scratch.”

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The crown crisis and associated restrictions and side effects have hit many children and young people hard. However, the measures have often had a particularly severe effect on those who previously had problems going to school, dealing with their peers or in situations in public spaces. What the changed daily life would mean for this group “was not taken into account during the lockdowns,” says Christin Henrich. Since 1 February she has been working in the newly opened psychiatric clinic for children and adolescents at the pediatric clinic of the DRK, but previously worked in his practice in Siegen. “Many young people who have not been to school for a long time no longer dare.” This goes so far that some children can no longer attend regular school.

Corona Siegen: Fears for children and young people in isolation are often exacerbated

The reasons why those affected have difficulty returning to pre-pandemic normalcy vary:

social anxiety. Children and young people who suffer from it are afraid of negative reactions, especially judgments, for example that others laugh at them or that the teacher rolls his eyes. Those affected often dare not say anything in front of others. Blocks are – presumably – good for them because they avoid meeting other people. With models such as home schooling, children and young people can largely disappear in front of the monitor and the amount of non-verbal communication is also greatly reduced in the zoom conference: exhaling or giggles annoyed by others, smug tones or defensive postures can be detected. through the small cards in the digital channel he does not see it so clearly.

Siegen: Lockdown isolation increases the pressure, especially on children with anxiety disorders

The relief that those affected feel as a result is only short-term. On the other hand, there is a greater risk that the avoidance model will stick in the long term because children and young people do not have the ability to compare their fears with reality: to cope in everyday life, of usually it would help them continue to experience that others are not at all in the feared ways of reacting to them and that not every other people’s giggle, groan, or gasp has anything to do with them. It is about recognizing “dysfunctional thoughts” – that is, those that are stressful and not appropriate to the situation – as such, to understand and correct them, as Christin Henrich explains. But continuing education is important.

+++ Correspondence to the topic: Siegen: New therapy for anxiety disorders – with virtual reality+++

performance anxiety The therapist explains that some children and young people are afraid of failing school. The high demands that people place on themselves or others place on them often play a role here. The Corona months can have an aggravating effect here, if schoolchildren have the idea that, despite the omissions caused by the pandemic, they must be at the level they could have been without the crisis – because that adds to the pressure, but is totally irrelevant. for past real circumstances.

Corona Siegen: the fears of children and young people increase

fear of disease. A certain high level of fear of contracting a disease is obviously appropriate in the pandemic. For people who generally tend to do this, however, Corona has not only added a new threat, but also a framework within which they could avoid fearful situations with blockades. The morbid fear of disease sometimes severely limits those affected and, as with social phobias, there was no comparison with reality. Incidentally, it is not a question of age: even children can suffer from it.

The range of fears that can make everyday life difficult for children and young people goes even further and is very individual. For example, boys and girls who are experiencing tension or separation issues at home may also experience stress when returning to class if they feel a loss of control: “When I’m in school, something might happen at home – and not. I can be careful, ”Christin Henrich gives an example of a typical tormenting thought.

Corona Siegen: Therapeutic places for children and young people are often only available via a waiting list

Especially when it comes to children with pre-existing conditions, not everything went perfectly during the pandemic, says Christin Henrich. There were many “busy parents who wanted to keep their children in touch; but many have had to work and leave their children alone – and you can’t blame many for that. “At the school level, more attention to alternatives to home education could have been helpful.” I think alternating classes are really good “, says Christin Henrich. Even” with a few students for a few hours a day “it would still be possible to” practice reality “.

+++ More information on the topic: Siegen Children’s Hospital can expand psychiatry+++

The opening of the outpatient clinic at the DRK Pediatric Clinic on 1 February showed once again how high the need for therapeutic places for children and young people is in the region at large. “We got a lot of calls in the early days,” reports Christin Henrich. Besides her there is also her colleague Nan Yang. The clinic was also set up to bridge the gap in care in Siegen and the surrounding area. As in many other regions, demand far exceeds supply. It will probably stay that way for a while. “We now also have a waiting list,” says Christin Henrich. “And it probably would have been like that without the Crown.”

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