Academic journal article International Journal of Emotional Education

Media Literacy and Social Emotional Learning for the Net Generation

Academic journal article International Journal of Emotional Education

Media Literacy and Social Emotional Learning for the Net Generation

Article excerpt


Suicide is a complex multi-layered public health problem with protective and risk factors operating across many levels of interaction: the physical or biological-somatic level (i.e. health, healthy lifestyle); the psychological (i.e. mental health, self-confidence and ability to cope with challenges); the cultural and overall political, economic, environmental level; the social level of relationships with others in wider communities; and the spiritual level (Kalmar, 2013). Despite many ongoing prevention programs, suicide and associated mental ill-health is still a persistent phenomenon (Pompili, Innamorati, Girardi, Tatarelli & Lester 2011) and suicide remains the second highest cause of unnatural premature death in people aged 15 to 19 years (WHO, 2014).

Among risk factors there are: relational conflicts; (cyber) bullying; aggressive tendencies; substance abuse; discrimination and isolation; the presence of mental health disorders; and difficulties in accessing health care. Protective factors include: perceived school safety; connectedness to supportive peers and adults with clear expectations; opportunities for meaningful contribution; life skills (such as self-regulation, coping, problem-solving, critical and creative thinking skills to assertively resist peer pressure to enage in risky behaviours, effective communication, empathy, and taking responsibility), and availability of and easy access to (mental) health care (Goldsmith, Pellmar, Kleinman, & Bunney, 2002).

Mental health is defined by the World Health Organization (WHO) not only as the absence of a mental disorder, but as a state of wellbeing in which individuals realise their potential, learn to cope with the daily stresses of life and are able to sail proactively through all the challenges (WHO, 2001), making a positive contribution as resilient citizens to their communities and their lives (Sancassiani et al., 2015). To this end, there is "no health without mental health" (WHO, 2013). Unfortunately, according to an estimation by WHO, every fourth European citizen is affected by a mental disorder at least once in their lifetime. Hence, mental health promotion is among the top priorities of the public health agenda in Europe.

Mental Health in Italian Adolescents

Over half of all mental disorders have their onset before adulthood: in childhood and adolescence (Kessler, Amminger, Aguilar-Gaxiola, Alonso, Lee & Ustün, 2005; Kessler, Berglund, Demler, Merikangas & Walters, 2007), negatively affecting life quality, health, social, educational and occupational opportunities. In Europe, the EUROSTAT research carried out in 2003 revealed that many adolescents have experienced mental distress at one point in life, with female adolescents being at a higher risk (Wasserman et al., 2015).

In Italy, the national PrISMA study (Frigerio et al., 2007) evaluated the presence of mental disorders in preadolescents aged 10-14 years, showing that about 8% of participants exhibited at least a mental disorder at the time of evaluation, while another 10% were probable cases of emotional (anxious and depressive disorders) and behavioural disorders, with the internalizing disorders being more common than the externalizing ones. This major threat to youth health and wellbeing needs to be addressed as mental disorders can increase the rates of self-injuries, unhealthy risky behaviors (such as smoking, alcohol or drug abuse, poor diet, physical inactivity), and anti-social and suicidal behaviors (Campion, Bhui, & Bhugra, 2012).

On the other hand, strengthening internal and external assets, together with perceived social support has been shown to be related to social competence; and a sense of positive identity is a significant protective factor for healthy youth development. (Kosic, Wiium, & Dimitrova, under review; Wiium, Dost-Gözkan, & Kosic, 2018).

Suicide Prevention and Health Promotion Programs

Every suicide inevitably impacts on the family members, friends, school and community members (Rihmer & Rutz, 2009). …

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