Crisis leaves youngsters “depressed and anxious”

It’s not just adults who feel the weight of the economic crisis. According to the director of the National Mental Health Programme Álvaro de Carvalho, there has been a “very significant increase” in the number of children and teenagers who seek medical help for depression, anxiety and even attempted suicide.

The psychiatrist told Lusa that most of these youngsters belong to families that are going through difficulties due to the crisis.

He said that it is “no surprise” as the burdens families carry, particularly “unemployment and financial troubles”, tend to rub off on “weaker links, like children and teenagers”.

Suicide attempts by youngsters from middle and upper-middle class families are also on the increase, he added, pointing out that some parents are “so worried with the crisis” that they overlook warning signs coming from their children.

Signs can include symptoms of anxiety, trouble concentrating, eating and sleep problems and even self-mutilation.

The news came as the World Health Organisation and the European Observatory on Health Systems and Policies presented a report in Coimbra on Monday (March 16), condemning European authorities for not evaluating the impact the crisis would have on populations. It follows similar accusations from Greece as it struggles to keep to the terms of its bailout – and the admission by European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker that Europe “sinned against the dignity of the people” of cash-strapped countries.