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"Young people have particularly sensitive stress antennae"

Federal Family Minister Lisa Paus (Greens) wants to attract more public attention to the views and concerns of young people with an "Alliance for the Young Generation".

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"Young people have particularly sensitive stress antennae"

Federal Family Minister Lisa Paus (Greens) wants to attract more public attention to the views and concerns of young people with an "Alliance for the Young Generation". In recent years, young people have backed down and shown solidarity with their elders. "Conversely, we failed to show solidarity with them," Paus said when signing a joint statement. One of the 130 first signatories is Mazda Adli, chief physician at the Fliedner Clinic for Psychiatry, Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics in Berlin.

WORLD: Mr. Adli, what are the objectives of the "Alliance for the Young Generation"?

Mazda Adli: It's about making it clear that the younger generation has to endure a lot right now. The sequence of crises we are going through weighs particularly heavily on the shoulders of children, adolescents and young adults. That is why it is so important that we come to such an alliance across the various social groups.

WORLD: The alliance text says: “Young people are seismographs of our society. We need to make them heard more." As?

Adli: By paying special attention to the psychological well-being of young people. Because that basically shows us very precisely the condition of society as a whole. If the young generation is not doing well, then none of us are doing well. And that's not rhetoric. In the pandemic, we have seen that the psychological burden of stress, anxiety and, most importantly, loneliness was more pronounced in young people than in older age cohorts. We find this also in the case of climate change. The fear of an uncertain future and the loss of healthy living space is particularly virulent among young people.

WORLD: As a psychiatrist, you have a precise view of how vulnerable young people are. What developments have you observed in recent years?

Adli: I can report from my own clinic that the proportion of young patients has increased disproportionately in the last two years. We have significantly more young people here today than before the pandemic. We see young people with severe depression, serious life crises, but also with other mental illnesses that have broken out particularly under the burden of the pandemic.

WORLD: What is particularly endangering the mental health of young people?

Adli: Young people have particularly sensitive stress antennae. They are particularly exposed to the influences of their living environment. From an evolutionary point of view, it also makes sense that one should be particularly sensitive to stimuli during this phase of development. At the same time, however, this becomes an entry point for stress - especially in global permanent crisis situations like the current one. Older people can muster more resilience here. Life experience gives you a thicker skin. And as an older person, you have more likely experienced that a crisis will pass.

WORLD: That means it is no longer just the effects of the pandemic, but the multiple crises that are affecting young people?

Adli: The permanent state of crisis affects us all. We all realize that our emotional resources are depleted after pandemic, war, economic worries and concerns about climate change. Such a chain of crises had never existed before. And in each of these crises, the young generation is particularly burdened, as all studies show. For example, 60 percent of 16 to 25 year olds feel extremely stressed by climate change and feel fear, anger and despair.

WORLD: Has it always been like this or are young people more sensitive today than they used to be?

Adli: I would say it was always like that. Young people have more sensitive antennae – also for stress.

WORLD: The most obvious expression of rampant climate anxiety is the group “Last Generation”. Do these young people really think the world will end after them?

Adli: At least the naming is indicative. I do not support the form of this protest. But as a psychiatrist and psychotherapist, I understand the fear behind it. As a psychiatrist, my job is usually to alleviate anxiety. When it comes to climate change, however, I have to say that the fear is justified. A problem is much more the displacement. The fear is also pronounced enough to change our coexistence and our social cohesion. The discussion about the “last generation” shows this only too well.

Climate extremists have tried to paralyze air traffic in Munich. They apparently cut through the fence with a bolt cutter, reports reporter Florian Wolske. There was also a similar action in Berlin.

Source: WORLD | Marie Droste and Florian Wolske

WORLD: What contribution can you personally make to the alliance?

Adli: It is important to me that we take note of the psychological stress on young people and make it possible to discuss it. This also includes education about how to deal with stress, fears or loneliness. I would wish that taking care of your psyche would become as natural as brushing your teeth every day.

WORLD: Do we have to apologize to the boys for past omissions?

Adli: I don't know what an adequate apology could look like. We're all in too deep for that. Rather, action is needed: take the fears seriously, talk about them, get them out of the taboo zone. Acting, talking and getting involved builds confidence. Commitment is a very effective way of dealing with fears because it strengthens the sense of self-efficacy. A situation that seems to have gotten out of control becomes manageable again when you take action.

"Kick-off Politics" is WELT's daily news podcast. The most important topic analyzed by WELT editors and the dates of the day. Subscribe to the podcast on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Amazon Music or directly via RSS feed.

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