For the Ordem dos Psicólogos, it is not enough to implement measures within the walls of schools to support students; measures “outside the school” are also needed.
The OPP’s position follows the publication of the study carried out this year in Portuguese schools, which revealed that one in three students show signs of psychological distress.
“We need an integrated work with the different sectors of the community. Schools, at the moment, are not able to refer children and young people who need intervention in the clinical and health area to the Health Centers because they do not have the capacity to respond. They do not have psychologists to respond to these needs”, warns Sofia Ramalho, vice president of the Order.
Therefore, the OPP argues that it is necessary to reduce barriers to accessing psychological health care, through the reinforcement of psychologists in primary health care.
During the presentation of the results of the “School Observatory: Monitoring and Action | Psychological Health and Welfare”, the Minister of Education, João Costa, guaranteed that Portuguese schools are meeting the ratio of psychologists to students in schools.
Sofia Ramalho points out that the work of psychologists in schools “has been tireless”, but recalls that “the needs for individual intervention, increasingly necessary and urgent, do not allow for prevention and promotion work for the whole school, which is also essential” .
The covid-19 pandemic has accentuated pre-existing inequalities and increased risk factors for the healthy development and well-being of children and young people. The Ministry of Education requested, for the first time, a study to understand what was happening in schools.
The researchers found that about a third of students show signs of psychological distress and a deficit in emotional skills that demand attention, as well as half of teachers show signs of psychological distress.
In view of this scenario, the Order considers it “urgent” that children and young people are priority targets of intervention, namely through the prevention and combat of inequalities and the promotion of psychological health and well-being.
The OPP also asks for intervention with families, with programs to promote parenting or other skills, and the promotion of psychological health in the work context of families, with the implementation of policies and practices that balance personal and professional life “friends of the family”. family”.
The study, coordinated by Margarida Gaspar de Matos, from the Social Adventure Team at the University of Lisbon, makes several recommendations, such as strengthening literacy and individual skills and competences, namely socio-emotional skills.
The OPP endorses the measure, but recalls that the promotion of these skills “implies an increase in the number and continuity of the work of psychologists present in schools”.
João Costa announced the renewal of contracts that allowed the placement of around 1,100 specialized technicians in schools, of which around 70% are psychologists, for the Personal, Social and Community Development Plans.