The school in Italy: stress, depression and homologation

From middle school to university, Italian students are victims of psychological problems, much more than their European classmates

November 17th was the International Students Daywhich, however in Italy they have very little to celebrate. It’s no surprise that once again statistics show that our country’s students are among them more stressed and depressed of Europe, and the pandemic, outdated assessment methods and a culture of competition and reluctance to resort to psychological support do not help.

An epidemic

The data from the OSCE “Students” report speak for themselves: Italian students generally do not conceive of school as a safe and productive environment. Just think that only the 26% of female students and the 17% of their mates males they define themselves happy to go there. As for middle and high school, between the desks the 70% feel worried, compared to the European average of 56%, which is still quite high. THE Class homework instead they render nervous 56% of Italian students; the European average is 37%. But the negative data does not end there: according to Unicef ​​almost the 15% of young people between 10 and 19 years in Italy they received diagnosis of a mental disorder, which in 40% of cases consists of anxiety or depression. And University is no better: according to research by Porru, Robroek, Bultmann and Portoghese, 5% of those enrolled in universities in our country have suffered psychological discomforts, above all relating to the lack of certainty in the world of work and the lack of gratification of efforts to study. In short, a real epidemic of psychological disorders in what should be an age if not carefree, at least positive.

Priority to numbers, not to growth

It’s not easy to understand the reasons of a phenomenon of this magnitude, but it is certain that rather than seeking the causes in the individual, they should be sought in society and in the idea we have of school. The Italian one is based on a rating system strongly uniforming, which does not take into account the singularity of the students and their starting points. A method that becomes so central as to pass on the idea that the vote is the point of arrival, compared to what has been understood, internalized, heavy. In other words, the commitment is not rewarded with the awareness of having trained and acculturated, taking steps forward to become aware adults, but with a number that can represent very little the complexity of a student. For some years the Morgagni High School in Rome activated a section experimental which does not make use of an evaluation method. Enrolled students are indeed examined by the professors, but without receiving a numerical grade: they are limited to underline what has been done well and what needs to be improved. This way you avoid unnecessary rankings and competitions.

A culture of “competition”

And here we come to the second point. Italian culture – as well as western culture in general – is permeated by the idea that performance must necessarily lead to one competition, even in contexts where we should focus only on ourselves. This is the case of the scholastic experience, which instead of revolving around the personal growth of the student necessarily creates the idea of ​​a rush to a standard represented by 6, 8, 10, and so on. Of course it is not something consciousgenerally the primary objective of a teacher is to train, but the very existence of a numerical evaluation can only lead to comparisons between “us” and “them” that have no sense of existing, because the inclinations, starting points and aspirations will never be the same.

The difficulty of asking for help

But if psychological problems continue to increase, it is also the fault of a common sense which still stigmatizes the need for ask for helpespecially if at a professional. A 2017 Eurodap survey showed that the 70% of Italians consider it superfluous go to the psychologist. The reasons for this reluctant trend lie in the difficulty with which psychological studies took root in Italy (the first faculties were opened just over forty years ago), but they continue to reflect on young people, children of a culture for which introspection is seen as useless self-pity.

Faced with these problems would be absurd to indicate a way out, a “step-by-step” path aimed at improving the condition of Italian students. What is needed is a real one revolution of ways of understanding school, work, society and oneself.

The school in Italy: stress, depression and homologation