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Covid, Mental Health, Children’s Summer Camp in Slovenia




Interview with Steve Hartley, Australian camp director based in Osilnica.

At the Explorer camp, we had a lot of contact with children of all ages and their families. How do these viruses affect our children?

Statistics collected before covid show that 1 in 5 teenagers live with mental illness..

I can’t believe it.We didn’t believe it when we were first presented with it Youth mental health training For camping, but that’s really true.

What’s really scary is that you’re likely to be one in four, or even one in three, adolescents. This is because it is based on the cases diagnosed and takes into account that many children do not take formal steps to make a formal diagnosis. Then … there are definitely more!

And keep in mind that this was all before the virus hit.

Relation: Slovenian Foreign Entrepreneurs: Steve Hartley, Explorer Summer Kids Camp


Shocking statistics. Is it safe to say that our youth may be experiencing some form of mental health crisis?

This is the ruthless truth that all parents face and draws a very nasty picture for the future. More than 25% of our teenage population reportedly lives with some form of mental illness, an even higher number these days.

Recent polls from CS Mott Children’s Hospital show that the impact of a pandemic on mental health is likely to have a significant impact on teenagers.It says it 46 percent of parents Their teens say they have shown signs of new or worsening mental health since the start of the pandemic in March 2020.

Even our adults feel the impact. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation 4 out of 10 adults Symptoms of anxiety or depression have been reported during the pandemic.


So aren’t there one children in this mental health crisis?

You are welcome. The summer camp industry calls it “collective trauma.” From grandparents to grandchildren, from rich to poor, at all ages, classes and social levels. Everyone lost something. Maybe they have lost their loved ones. You may have lost your life experience, such as graduating, dropping your child to kindergarten for the first time, or getting married. Maybe they are losing jobs and income. Everyone has lost something that leads to this “collective trauma.”

Do you think our youth are particularly affected?

Judging from recent polls, limited research, and personal experience … yes.

“Usually”, children seek guidance as if they were parents or adults, as long as that is the case. But during the pandemic, parents have no answer. Because no one really has the answer … So who can young people turn to? Google. And it gets even more confusing! Maintaining a positive state of mental health is becoming increasingly difficult for our young people.

For example, it is widely reported United States with high suicide rate It rose during the pandemic.


Is this suicide rate reflected in Slovenia?

Such information is difficult to know at this stage, as it is not really publicly available, especially among children. However, an example is Clark County, USA, which has experienced more than 20 teenage suicides since the shutdown began in March last year, an increase of more than 67% year-on-year. It’s a very worrying time, as the pandemic is only blamed on this result.

They are definitely so. Want to see what your mental state should be? What is pre-teen and teen mental health?

Mental health is a way of explaining social and emotional well-being. Children need good mental health to grow in a healthy way, build strong relationships, adapt to change, and meet life’s challenges.

Parents should ask if they are preteens and teenagers:

  • Feel happier and more positive about yourself and enjoy your life.
  • Build healthier relationships with family and friends.
  • Do physical activity and eat a healthy diet.
  • Please participate in the activity.
  • Have a sense of accomplishment.
  • You can relax and get a good night’s sleep.
  • They feel like they belong to their community.

But there is one big question …

… In today’s COVID-influenced era, children were repeatedly restricted to their homes and always glued to the screen without direct contact with friends or regular extracurricular activities…

… In fact, is it possible for parents to answer all these questions positively? I have a question.


You brought up “screen time” that looks like the buzzwords of these times. Do you think technology abuse plays a major role in youth mental health?

According to experts, it’s definitely a contributor and that’s why Explorer camp It is technically free from our concept. We have always believed in the importance of young people detoxifying as much as possible from electronic media. And in these times, it’s more important than ever.

Some studies suggest that screen times have increased by more than 180% compared to the already high utilization rates before the pandemic, so how badly our youth are being affected, and in the long run. It’s scary to think about what the impact is.


What are some of these effects on our youth?

Of course, there was an interesting study provided in advance, highlighting that one in three girls was dissatisfied with their appearance by the age of 14. 1 in 7 people. In less than a year, this incredible dip is due to a significant increase in screen time among teens. And this was before covid remembered.

This is just one example of the many obvious negative consequences of screen addiction we have covered. In the article we wroteAnxiety and depression are many obvious problems that result from dependence on electronic media.

Is it safe to say that depression in teens is the number one concern for parents?

In fact, it’s not.Look at that 1 in 5, 33% of these teenagers have been diagnosed with anxiety-related disorders, but depression is 17%. Depression is definitely something we all need to know, but it’s not as common as the mass media makes us think.


What are the signs that parents can pay attention to in relation to anxiety?

Again, I’m certainly not an expert in this area, but when it comes to anxiety, I train summer camp staff to be aware of:

  • Children who are always looking for peace of mind through questions
  • Excessive effort
  • Distracting and / or fidgeting (playing with hands, grabbing things)
  • I can’t sit still
  • Stomach / headache without physical cause
  • Excessive sweating and physical discomfort

Children may also be separated from their families and tend to be a little more aggressive, whether verbal or physical. One of the important areas to watch out for is sleep difficulty.


Sleep is one of the areas most affected by parents. why is that?

Well, excessive screen time definitely affects a child’s sleep pattern. However, it can also be pointed out that children’s lives are unstructured due to the ever-changing schedule of schools and extracurricular activities. You can even talk about increased stress response, in other words, escape or fighting, because the way you react to the virus is completely confused. What do the kids do? It’s a very difficult time for everyone, and sleep seems to pay for it.

You mentioned that summer camps carry out specific mental health training. Can you tell me more?

This is something we’ve wanted to do for years, but we haven’t been able to find the right organization to provide the right support.There are some mental health trainings in the UK, but none are dedicated to summer camps, so it took a long time to find them. lead It is based in the United States.

In addition to this, it was difficult to plan it due to the uncertainty around the camp. Now that we are in the process of being officially certified as a Camp Mental Health instructor, we will be able to train not only our staff, but also teenage campers who want to complete such training. However, it may be premature to officially certify all staff this summer. I understand.


This seems to be a new concept. Are there other Slovenian camps doing the same type of training?

For this particular organization, we will be Europe’s first mental health certified summer kids camp. There are mental first aid courses in Europe, especially in the UK, but as far as we know, we are the first when it comes to camping.

That said, I hope that all organizations working with children receive some form of mental health training, especially during this time. Our children need more support and understanding than ever before. That’s what we do at Explorer Camp.


Finally, take all this information into account. What can parents do about mental health?

Oh, that’s also difficult, I’m not an expert on this issue … yet!

But the most important thing to tell staff at a summer camp is to take mental health seriously. be careful. be patient. Create a positive and compassionate environment.

Unfortunately, it is not taken seriously by society. Not really.


Don’t you think your parents take it seriously enough?

I’m not telling it directly to my parents, I’m telling it to society in general.

I liken it to this situation.

If a child has a broken leg, the last thing we say is to let go.

When a child gets a serious illness, it’s hard to dream that it’s all in the child’s head.

If a child has an accident and loses his or her feet, we do not dare to lay it down and see how it feels in the morning.

But when it comes to mental health, sick people often say this exactly. Please leave it. It’s in your head. Sleep and check your mood in the morning.

The first step towards support is to change our perception of what mental health is and how it can be improved. By making this simple change, the children will feel our honest compassion and compassion. Then you can start moving forward … together!


If you want to know more about Explorer Summer Kids Camp, website Or Facebook page


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