How important are psychologists to Kosova's education system?
By Blerta Sulhasi, M.A.
How many of you have heard adults around you express dissatisfaction with this generation of adolescents?
"Youth use illegal drugs! They do not learn! They skip their classes! Youth spend a lot of time in cafés! They are angry, unsatisfied and blue!"
Despite these understandable concerns, we cannot simply place the blame on adolescents alone. Think about it this way, how much as a society are we offering our adolescents? Is their voice heard? Do they have safe and accessible recreational outlets? Are we giving them a reason to believe in a brighter future? Do we take time to care about or even notice their emotional state and well-being? I believe we have the same response, "Not at all."
Over the course of the last decade, Kosovar society experienced great changes. Terrible and catastrophic war in Kosova had a direct impact on the lives of many adolescents. They lost family members and in some cases they watched firsthand as their parents were killed.
Today's Kosovar adolescents are yesterday's children of war. They witnessed the inhumanity of conflict, unkindness and atrocities that no child should live through. They survived but continue to be effected by those immensely difficult experiences. We, therefore, are responsible for helping them to develop normally and give them the same comforts and opportunities as any adolescent around the world. We must “feed” them emotionally, as it is a part of their development as well.
Have you done enough for adolescents in your community? For the sake of argument, let us suppose that you have been positively engaged with adolescents, or that you have tried to contribute to their lives as you "know best." But even with the steps you may have taken, I can tell you, as a psychologist and teacher, that there is need for more. According to some research, 20% of all adolescents need additional professional assistance from mental health professionals.
But what percentage of our adolescents receive much needed mental health assistance? The answer is ZERO.
Hiring psychologists to work in Kosova's elementary and high schools is a need that should be fulfilled immediately. This will positively impact students' academic environment and performance. There is much evidence linking mental health and academic success. A pilot School Based Psychological Services in School Program has started to provide these services, as a part of the Hope Fellowships Program sponsored by the National Albanian American Council and USAID.
I hope we will soon become more aware of and appreciate the immediate need for psychologists at all of Kosova's schools. Just as every adolescent living in the USA and Europe, our adolescents need psychological services and support, if in the future we want to have emotionally healthy adults.
Copyright 2012 Blerta Sulhasi