Cyberbullying, stress at school and at home

"WE can always be stronger, together UNITED AS ONE!" - was the tenor among the social work students at FH Burgenland.

Students in the Bachelor’s Degree Programme in Social Work at University of Applied Sciences Burgenland work as practically as possible even during their studies. As part of a creative course, they document in videos and songs together with children and young people in Burgen-land how the children and young people overcome their psychosocial challenges.

Eisenstadt, 2 April 2024 - The mental health of children and young people has been under severe strain after the COVID-19 pandemic and in view of multiple crises - also in Burgenland. Students in the Bachelor’s Degree Programme in Social Work at University of Applied Sciences Burgenland have been dealing intensively with this topic over the past semester, working with children and young people in youth centres, in open youth work and in a school context. This work resulted in short films in which the young people themselves have their say and also talk about their strategies for overcoming crises. The fact that Jerry Meehan, the bassist of the Robbie Williams band, guided the participants in sound and post-production was a particular highlight.

The project was funded by Landesjugendreferat Burgenland (the youth services department of the government of Burgenland) and the Burgenland Centre for Child and Adolescent Psychiatry of Soziale Dienste Burgenland GmbH (the umbrella organisation for social care services in Burgenland). The students travelled throughout Burgenland to engage in direct dialogue with young people, e.g. at the Mattersburg Youth Centre, the Pinkafeld Open Youth Work Centre, the SOS Children’s Village in Pinkafeld and a Burgenland general secondary school.

Rising numbers since 2019 - plateau appears to have been reached

Soziale Dienste Burgenland have expanded their services for the target group of under-18s under the leadership of Dr Roland Grassl. In connection with the mental stress of children and young people, he explains that contacts in child and adolescent psychiatry in Burgenland have doubled since 2019: “We are talking about 800 to 900 more patients per year. According to our observations, we now seem to have reached a plateau.” He is grateful to all social workers for their commitment. “Prevention is part of the mission of child and adolescent psychiatry and psychotherapy, which we are almost unable to fulfil due to the large number of minors requiring treatment. We are glad that other professionals in outreach youth work and youth centres are taking on this important task in the context of social work and social pedagogy.”

This harms mental well-being

Too much social media consumption, especially of TikTok, SnapChat, Instagram and the like, cyberbullying, omnipresent pressure to perform, poor grades and experiences of marginalisation were cited by the children and young people interviewed as major factors for crises in their mental well-being. When asked about their methods of coping with crises, the answers ranged from “going to therapy” and doing sports to praying. Some escape into virtual worlds, but unfortunately some also resort to alcohol and cigarettes or engage in other forms of self-harm.

The appeal from those who work with children and young people, for example in youth centres, is: “We need more support. The kids are shouting loud enough, but are rarely heard by those responsible. If we don’t invest in our children and their psychosocial health and future, it will have consequences for society as a whole.”

Manfred Tauchner, Head of the Department of Social Work and Social Sciences at University of Applied Sciences Burgenland, social worker and programme director, says: “Social work also sees itself as a megaphone for the concerns of children and young people who are particularly vulnerable and at risk of marginalisation. They provide touching insights into their coping strategies and give clear instructions on how youth work can support them. The echo from the youth centres, the government’s youth services department, child and adolescent psychiatry and social policy resonates through the presentation and discussion of our participatory creative project “YOUnited for Mental Health in Burgenland”. The young people’s message has been heard: “WE can always be stronger, together UNITED AS ONE!” Thanks again to Dr Roland Grassl for the initiative, and to Mag.a Daniela Winkler, member of the provincial government, for her support!”

For more information on the degree programmes at University of Applied Sciences Burgenland, visit www.fh-burgenland.at

Further information:
Mag.a Christiane Staab
Marketing & Communication
Fachhochschule Burgenland GmbH
Tel: +43 (0)5 7705 3537
E-Mail: christiane.staab@fh-burgenland.at


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