7.6 Mechanisms of early detection and signposting of young people facing health risks
Since 2001, Italy has participated in the HBSC multicentric study (Cf. paragraphs 7.1-7.4). The HBSC surveys promoted a continuity in the monitoring of health-related behaviours of school-age children.
With the State-Regions Conference of 18 December 2019, the agreement regarding the Health Pact for the years 2019-2021 was ratified in which specific active policies for the promotion and protection of health are considered with particular attention to children and adolescence, to people with mental disorders, to support the autonomy of people with disabilities and non self-sufficient people.
The protection of human health is developed, in which central and local institutions and civil society are involved, in order to develop integrated policies that act effectively on the main determinants of health.
Among the main actors involved in the promotion of health and in the prevention of risky behaviours are:
- the health operators of the Prevention Departments of the Health Authorities that intervene in the world of schools;
- teachers who, thanks to the direct and continuous link with students, can collaborate effectively to foster the close link between education and health;
- students who have to learn the possibilities of choice in terms of health behaviours;
- parents as they play an important role in the educational area and in the maintenance or modification of health behaviours.
Young people are also an active part in health promotion, since they participate in the process of transmitting information, advice and other types of help for the prevention of health risks, such as, for example, the abuse of alcohol and drugs and in the prevention of communicable diseases.
Primary doctors and pediatricians are fundamental for promoting the psycho-physical well-being of young people.
The Ministry of Health has set up programs with pediatricians from the Italian Society of Pediatrics (SIP) and the Italian Federation of Pediatric Doctors (FIMP) aimed at promoting healthy nutrition and correct lifestyles and promoting health education interventions, aimed at families and children/adolescents. The main objective is to develop synergies to transform good practices into consolidated interventions, networking different systems, skills and responsibilities.
3.Guidance to stakeholders
In January 2019, the State-Regions Conference approved the memorandum of understanding between the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Education “Integrated policy guidelines for schools that promote health”.
The protocol is aimed at encouraging the inclusion of “Health Promotion” in the educational curriculum of school students of all levels, not as a “new subject”, but as a continuous and integrated educational proposal along the entire school path. Every school will be able to develop in the manner deemed most suitable to address the real educational and training needs of individual students, constantly monitoring the entire educational process.
The document underlines how a health promoting school must adopt a global approach aimed at all students, their families, teaching and non-teaching staff, aimed at developing the individual skills of all members of the school community and improving their physical environment and social, opening up to the territory and strengthening collaboration with the local community.
The transposition of the document by the Regions will help improve collaboration between health and school operators as well as encourage the implementation of the actions activated in the school setting, as part of the ongoing regional prevention plans. All the Regions, therefore, have developed Regional Plans that address the various macro-objectives of the PNP through transversal and integrated programs (Cf. paragraph. 7.4).
Smoking, harmful consumption of alcohol, improper diet and physical inactivity are health risk behaviours that often occur in childhood or adolescence.
Smoking is one of the main risk factors for the development of serious and often fatal diseases. ISTAT data indicate that in 2019 there are still many young people who declare themselves to be smokers, although down from the previous year (Cf. paragraph 7.1).
The consumption of alcohol by young people is also on the rise, in ways that are new and far from tradition, such as consumption between meals and in moderate quantities, drunkenness and binge drinking (Cf. paragraph 7.1). According to data from the Istituto Superiore di Sanità, among young people aged 11-25, consumption at risk concerns 20.1% of males and 10.1% of females (about 1.3 million young people), with different consumption patterns in the various regions and maximum values for the total consumption at risk in the male population of north-eastern Italy. About 390,000 minors below the legal age do not comply with the prescription of total abstention from alcohol and female consumption has recorded a worrying increase among younger women, in particular, for the consumption between meals and binge drinking.
Other risk factors for health are unhealthy eating and a sedentary lifestyle, which are important modifiable risk factors for chronic diseases. Incorrect eating habits such as skipping breakfast, consuming little fruit and vegetables, overeating with sugary drinks are frequent among adolescents (Cf. paragraphs 7.1 e 7.4).
Among the national programs aimed at promoting the health and well-being of young people, there are:
Safer Internet Centre Connected Generations,co-financed by the European Commission under the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) - Telecom program, which materializes in the “Better Internet for Kids” online platform managed by European Schoolnet.
The project is coordinated by the Ministry of Education, University and Research with the partnership of some of the main Italian companies dealing with network security: the Guarantor Authority for Childhood and Adolescence, the State Police, the Ministry for Goods and Cultural Activities, the Universities of Florence and “La Sapienza”of Rome, Save the Children Italy, Telefono Azzurro, the non-profit EDI cooperative, Skuola net, the DIRE press agency and the Autonomous Giffoni Experience.
The Safer Internet Center (also known as SIC) was created to provide information, advice and support to children, teenagers, parents, teachers and educators who have Internet-related experiences, including problems, and to facilitate the reporting of illegal material online. The general objective is to develop services with innovative and higher quality content, in order to guarantee young users’ safety “in the environment” online, while considering, at the same time, the connected investment as a “virtuous” opportunity to a social and economic growth of the entire community;
The national project “Gaining health in adolescents” Recognition of projects and interventions for the prevention and promotion of health in adolescents in the Italian regions (Cf. paragraph 7.4.), promoted and financed by the Ministry of Health (Centre for Disease Control - CCM) which aims to carry out a survey of all the prevention and promotion initiatives of health aimed at adolescents-young people (11-30 years), conducted in the Italian Regions from 2003 to today, in the following thematic areas:
-sexually transmitted infections
-consumption of drugs and alcohol;