7.6 Mechanisms of early detection and signposting of young people facing health risks
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Mechanisms of early detection of young people facing health risks are poorly developed in Luxembourg. The recommendation report on the setup of a national strategy on mental health (CRP-Santé & MS, 2010) (Rapport de recommandations Pour une stratégie nationale en faveur de la santé mentale des enfants et des jeunes au Luxembourg) criticises that early detection of mental health disorders remains underdeveloped and that disorders are often solved in emergency situations and at the level of curative care in the face of relatively advanced problems. This is also related to the situation that the front-line professionals are not sufficiently aware of the signs of suffering and distress in children or adolescents. Primary health care services such as school medicine, general practitioners or paediatricians, who are required to observe the child in its entirety, do not have the tools for a systematic screening of signs and symptoms, risk factors or mental troubles (CRP-Santé & MS, 2010).
The National Office of Childhood (ONE; Office National de l'Enfance) is an important one-stop shop of child and youth welfare services which supports children, young adults and families facing psychosocial distress (see: 7.2 Administration and governance).
Young people in distress are guided either to the National Office of Childhood or to the Juvenile Court, who decides about the appropriate measure to be taken according to the specific need of the youth. Professionals in the respective institutions (schools, youth centres, hospitals, work, etc.) of the direct environment are important, because they are required to inform the National Office of Childhood or the Juvenile Court in cases where a young person shows signs of distress.
Besides the individual professionals, the Psycho-social and Educational Support Service (SePAS; service psycho-social et d'accompagnement scolaires) in secondary schools and the medical care at schools (médecine scolaire) are important stakeholders:
- The SePAS is in charge of providing psycho-social support in secondary schools. The SePAS team, consisting of psychologists, social workers, educators and career advisors, offers detailed and targeted support of psychological and pedagogical issues and provides guidance about the appropriate institutions in case of need
- The medical care at schools (médecine scolaire) plays an important role in the early detection and signposting of young people facing health risks. By establishing health check-ups on a regular basis, it ensures the screening of diseases and deficits, including oral diseases, at all public and private primary and secondary schools (1987 law on the regulation of medical care at schools).
In the field of youth work, the local youth centres are important stakeholders who guide young people towards appropriate institutions in case of need.
The National Youth Service offers trainings for youth workers which address different health issues and aims at sensitising their awareness of the health risks faced by young people. The action field 'team ('équipe')' addresses subjects such as conflicts, coping with traumatising experiences and teambuilding. The action field 'sport' includes subjects such as cannabis use, first aid, healthy nutrition, and alcohol consumption.
The web page of the Ministry of Health contains information and pedagogical materials on prevention and on young people's health and well-being.
The Luxembourgish Mental Health Organisation (Ligue Luxembourgeoise d'Hygiène Mentale) offers a training for 'Mental Health First Aid' at prevention-psy.lu (Premier secours en santé mentale). Mental health first aid courses teach basic knowledge about different mental disorders and crises. The first aider knows how to approach a person showing signs of mental disorder or going through a crisis, how to help, support and inform them, and even how to encourage them to seek professional help and strengthen their resources. Special training courses are offered for young people under the age of 18.
The target groups are children, young adults and families facing psychosocial distress.
The National Office of Childhood and the Psycho-social and Educational Support Service are funded by the Ministry of Education, Children and Youth.