Drug abuse, anxiety, depression. Timely recognition of the symptoms of mental health disorders in adolescents is key to providing effective ways of helping them. Fondazione Itaca is promoting a three-year project, to be rolled out in five regional centres (Lecce, Lamezia, Naples, Padua and Palermo), to provide secondary school students, their families and teachers with clear, factual information about mental health.
A recent research study analysing epidemiological studies from the past 15 years, found a 21.8% incidence of mental health disorders among adolescents. The most frequent disorders were related to drug and alcohol abuse (12.1%), anxiety disorders (10.7%) and depression (6.1%). Progetto Itaca, promoted by the similarly named Foundation with the support of Enel Cuore, works to call attention to the risk factors and symptoms that are manifested with mental health disorders as well as the methods for asking for and receiving help. The end goal of the initiative is to remove the stigma associated with mental health disorders to make it natural to seek treatment at the onset of the symptoms, while also clarifying the difference between physiological “youthful distress” in the transition to adulthood and long-term mental health problems.
The project involves 2,700 students, aged from 15 to 18, and 230 teachers and unfolds in three types of meetings: a class discussion where a psychiatrist explains mental health issues; a case study where someone describes their route from illness to health; and another that uses a questionnaire to measure the perception of mental health disorders during the training period.
The Fondazione Progetto Itaca was established in Milan in 2012 with the aim of supporting social solidarity through initiatives to provide information and promote prevention, support and rehabilitation for people affected by mental health disorders and their families. The project is recognised by the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), the largest mental health organization in North America whose community-based activity includes raising awareness and providing support for all the parties involved.
Enel Cuore supports the initiative for schools by covering the costs of: project and volunteer coordination staff; the printing of information material and production of digital resources; and travel and accommodation costs for the Progetto Itaca trainers at the regional headquarters. Additionally, we will help the Fondazione purchase the computer equipment required for the project.
Places: Naples, Lecce, Lamezia, Padua, Palermo,
Association: Fondazione Progetto Itaca
Beneficiaries: 2,700 students, 230 teachers
Total contribution for the Association: up to € 150,000
Duration: 3 years (2019-2021)