Background Organizing a forum about rheumatic diseases is necessary to raise public awareness about children and young people that are suffering from chronic diseases such as musculoskeletal diseases. The 11th Rheumaforum “Mental health – the alternatives for children and young people with musculoskeletal diseases in Estonia” was held on 22th of November in 2013 and it mainly focused on mental health and alternatives for children and young people with musculoskeletal diseases to help maintaining and also enhancing the quality of life. The project also involved a survey about children's rehabilitation and availability of services like rheumatology and physiotherapy. The results were analysed by rehabilitation physician Dr. Eve Sooba.
Objectives The main objectives of the project were to raise the overall awareness of the juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA), the cause of the disease, the importance of starting the therapy in its initial stage, and opportunities while making the choice of a profession. The project was aimed at children and young people with musculoskeletal diseases, their parents, general practitioners and other health care professionals, government officials and public in general. It also focused on mental health that is closely linked to children and young people with chronic diseases.
Methods The main points that were discussed in Rheumaforum were mental health issues that affect young people with musculoskeletal diseases, and topics about alternatives in labour market for children and young people. As mentioned before, the project also involved a small-scale survey where 28 respondents of whom nearly 85% answered ... “Yes” to the question: ... “Is there a physiatrist or physical therapist available in your local hospital or polyclinic?” Only 57% of the respondents claimed that an occupational therapist and rheumatologist work in their local medical centre. The availability of rehabilitation in general was claimed to be low because the time of reception often coincides with the time when children and young people are in school or when parents are at work. A little troublesome was the fact that Estonian Education Personnel Union was not interested in co-operation. However, children and young people's mental and physical health should also come in first, and it is very important that educators are involved in those subjects. The information about the Forum and publicity was distributed mainly on the Internet, for example social media, and in local media.
Results It is important to implement such projects in the future, especially those directed toward educators. Based on the feedback from many parents, we can conclude that teachers are not willing to understand the problems that young people are having due to their conditions, and they lack the experience of coping with such complicated situations. One of the solutions that were suggested on 22th November was to make rehabilitation services available for children and young people on the weekends or after traditional working hours.
Conclusions As for 2014, Estonian Rheumatism Association is planning subprojects for Rheumaforum such as ... “From youngster to youngster”, which main objective is to inform children and young people about juvenile idiopathic arthritis and how to be supportive towards their classmates and friends who suffer from JIA.
Disclosure of Interest None declared
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