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More and more Estonian children prescribed antidepressants and tranquilizers

Schoolchildren in Tallinn. Photo is illustrative.
Schoolchildren in Tallinn. Photo is illustrative. Source: (Andres Haabu/Postimees/Scanpix)

Estonian children are increasingly prescribed antidepressants and tranquilizers. Last year 10,385 12 to 19-year-olds were prescribed medication that fits the category, while just four years ago that number was 6,745.

According to daily Päevaleht, this number was the result of a study by the National Institute for Health Development. The number of youngsters who injure themselves increased as well, from 488 in 2015 to 640 in 2016, while according to the National Audit Office, some 20 percent of children never even make it to a regular health check-up.

The study was commissioned to get an overview of the results of programs aimed at supporting children’s mental health, and accommodating their special educational needs. Those programs have been supported with some €9 million over the past few years, Norwegian funding that reached Estonia through European programs.

The study found that 40 percent of 11 to 15-year-olds feel sad or depressed every week. It also found that the state in fact has no clear idea how many specialists there are that could help counteract this tendency, and that therefore there was no guarantee that according symptoms in children were ever noticed at all.

According to Margus Tõnissaar of the state’s educational support agency, AS Innove, depression in young people isn’t easy to identify, as a lot of symptoms could be explained by behavioral particularities or other circumstances.

Suicide among under 19-year-olds has remained the same over the past two years, with 12 victims each in 2014 and 2015.

Editor: Editor: Dario Cavegn

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