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Walk-in clinics for kids and teens coping with emotional distress

Image credit: American Psychological Association

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Darko Savic
Darko Savic Sep 30, 2021
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Necessity

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Free walk-in clinics to help kids and teens cope with emotional distress. Call it an "emotional hospital" or something that the kids will easily understand.

Why?
  • Young people are likely unaware that professional help is available when they experience emotional distress. Make this option well known and easily accessible to them.
  • Young people are the future of society. A society with fewer and well-healed emotional scars will do better.
  • Nobody should be scared, sad, or angry for longer than is necessary.
  • Teens sometimes get estranged from their parents and can't talk to them. Such clinics would give them an emotional safety net to fall back on in times of need.

How it works

The staff can be mostly psychology and med students overseen by senior psychotherapists and psychologists.

Everything is paid for from the public budget. Afterall, this is an investment in the future of society's mental health. No medical insurance needed.

Make the "Emotional Hospital" brand popular with kids/teens and establish franchises all over. There should be as many such clinics as there is the need for them. If one can't cope with the number of visitors, add more of them in adjacent neighborhoods to share the burden.

Make the experience of walking in seamless and pleasant. It would probably take some courage for a kid or teen to walk into such a clinic. How can we make this as easy on them as possible?
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Creative contributions

Making access to emotional support easier at school

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Manel Lladó Santaeularia
Manel Lladó Santaeularia Sep 30, 2021
While the proposed idea is very nice, I feel that one limitation would be the fact that children and young adolescents don't always have permission from their parents to wander around on their own, especially to go to talk to strangers without any supervision of knowledge from their parents. This issue could be solved by giving the kids access to this kind of emotional support at school. The school is a controlled environment that the parents trust to be safe for the kid, but have no direct overview on. For this to work, the emotional support system should be included on the school but completely independent of teachers or other staff of the school. Actually, in Spain and other countries, some schools are starting to employ psychologists, especially those schools in conflictive, high-complexity areas where children tend to have more psychological issues.

Can we discuss about what would be the best way to recruit and oversee these volunteers? How many hours a week should they dedicate? What guidelines should they be given? And should they be available during class hours or after class?

However, I believe such approach is not enough. I think that a single psychologist can't even begin to address all the potential issues. For this reason, I believe that the idea of having psychology and medicine students, who could be recruited as volunteers, and overseen by an expert, is amazing, since it would provide a great learning opportunity for the volunteers. Also, since the volunteers would be closer in age to them, this could allow the kids to talk about topics they wouldn't talk with "adults", like sexual topics, for example. There obviously should be some basic guidelines, but I believe this could help wih a lot of traumas and complexes that teenagers develop because they lack the proper support.

Additionally, the volunteers could organize activities with a reduced group of children, of whom they are responsible, in order to get closer and show them that they can also share their problems with each other to find support.
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Shubhankar Kulkarni
Shubhankar Kulkarni22 days ago
One way to solve both problems of marketing and helping school kids at the same time is establishing such centers as Darko Savic mentioned in the idea and then setting up desks or offices at schools for a few hours every day. The schools can outsource the counseling to these centers. That way the students get help at school and they know where to ask for help even outside school. The office in the school can give the students the address to the center closest to their place. Initially, one counselor per school will be sufficient. If they feel overbooked, they may ask the students to book appointments at the local clinic.
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Darko Savic
Darko Savic23 days ago
In my country kids already do have access to this at school, but they don't know that it could be used for non-school-related problems. The service is not "marketed" In that way.

In contrast, every kid knows what a hospital is for, what McDonald's is for, what movie theaters are for, what gas stations are for, etc. In order for the proposed solution to be successful, it should be marketed to kids for the exact services it provides, well before the kids encounter the need for such.

Such clinics would obviously be government-controlled. A child doesn't need their parent's permission to walk into a police station and request help. The service would have to be up to the highest/equal standards so that nobody would mind if their child sought help there.
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Manel Lladó Santaeularia
Manel Lladó Santaeularia23 days ago
Darko Savic The problem I see with that is that, a lot of times, the parents can be the cause of the problems. A lot of parents are very controlling and imposing, and would probably not appreciate their child going on their own to talk about the family problems with a stranger. When this is inside of the school system, the child has access to it without having to purposefully go somewhere else on their own. This is added to the fact that a lot of children/teenagers have a hard time looking for help on their own, either because they don't realize they have a problem, or because they are too scared/shy to share it with whomever can help them.

I agree that this kind of service is undervalued and underdeveloped in schools, and that it should be marketed better. That's why I think that a "mentor" program like the one I proposed could make it way more attractive to the children/teenagers. It would be like having an older friend that is at school and does activities with you and wants to listen to your problems. This would help the children have a higher level of comfort and trust with that person, and open to them more easily. I myself have experienced something like that when I was coaching basketball with younger kids. The ones I had a closer relationship with ended up telling me their problems with their parents, friends or girls and I gave them emotional support and advice. I think that kind of connection works way better than searching for what you feel as an "outsider" to help you.
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Why only for kids and teens?

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Darko Savic
Darko Savic Sep 30, 2021
I'm guessing people don't mind paying for a service from the country's public budget if it's for the kids. If the service was for everyone it could be as massive as healthcare itself. People might not understand how everyone's mental health is beneficial for society and thus worthy of paying for from the public budget.

It could be possible for wealthy countries like Norway to offer such services for free to all their citizens. This would also create many jobs.
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