Children’s access to mental health: From Freud to ChatGPT

Access to mental health services for young people faces significant limitations, compounded by stigma. The impact of technology, notably smartphones, has contributed to reduced real-life interactions and a concerning rise in youth suicides in the U.S., a trend also seen in Greece.

The Child and Adolescent Mental Health Initiative (CAMHI) in Greece reveals a lack of awareness among teenagers about where to seek help and discomfort discussing mental health issues. Recent events like economic crises and climate change have added to youth stress. Key mental health challenges include anxiety, disruptive behavior, depression, and bullying, with persistent stigma and skepticism about intervention effectiveness. Healthcare systems often prioritize tertiary care, hindering accessibility. Data on adolescent mental health remains limited, underscoring the need for comprehensive research.

The discussion on young people’s mental health intersects with technology’s influence. The pandemic worsened mental health issues, including cyberbullying and excessive online exposure. While technology and AI can enhance mental health efforts, it cannot replace the vital human connection essential for healing, as emphasized by Celina de Sola. Chatbots and telemedicine hold potential but raise concerns about security, privacy, and effectiveness. Various mental health solutions, from wellness apps to chatbots, are popular among young people but may lack comprehensive examination. Some countries, such as Germany, limit citizens to approved applications for insurance coverage, highlighting personal data protection and accountability as essential considerations. To ensure responsible technology use in mental health, robust regulations and accountability mechanisms are needed.

Journalist Kostas Koukoumakas interviewed Harold Koplewicz (an influential American child psychiatrist and founding president of the nonprofit Child Mind Institute), Giovanni Salum, Aspasia Serdari, Lillian Athanasopoulou and George Moschos who participated in the SNF Nostos 2023 panel, “Listening to stakeholders to create sustainable change for children and adolescents: The CAMHI experience in Greece”, as well as Savvy Brar who participated in the panel, “Catalyzing change at a global scale: The SNF Global Center for Child and Adolescent Mental Health at the Child Mind Institute”, Michelle Miller (Director of Mental Health Programs National Children’s Alliance), Celina de Sola (Co-founder & President Glasswing International), and Effy Vagena who participated in the panel, “Bioethics and digital mental health”.

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