Covid-19 in France: new alert on the mental health of young people

The Defender of Rights Claire Hédon warns, Wednesday, on the state of the mental health of young people in France, undermined by the health crisis, with an increase in depressive disorders and insufficient psychiatric care, in her annual report on children’s rights.

The discomfort of young French people exposed in a new report. Defender of Rights, Claire Hédon, is sounding the alarm on the state of mental health of young people after several confinements and restrictive measures due to the health crisis . In its annual report on the rights of the child, published Wednesday, November 17, it highlights the increase in depressive disorders and deplores insufficient psychiatric care.

“It has been shown that the first confinement led to a general increase in depressive syndromes and even to a doubling among 15-24 year olds (10% of them presented with a depressive syndrome in 2019, compared to more than 20% in 2020 ) “, we note in this report which notes an increase in” anxiety disorders “and” social phobias “.

Published on the occasion of the International Day of the Rights of the Child, on November 20, the report is based on the complaints received by the Defender of Rights (3,000 each year), as well as the consultation of children and professionals (school doctors and nurses, teachers and educators, psychiatrists, pediatricians, etc.).

The closure of schools and distance education have worsened “the risk of addiction” to screens, noted the Ombudsman for Children, Eric Delemar, at a press conference on Tuesday.

The professionals “challenged us on the difficulties of circadian rhythms, eating disorders, sleep in children, who were exhausted in schools, who suffer from attention problems. Teachers find it difficult to mobilize them on projects”, he continued.

“You can’t have six months of waiting for an appointment with a shrink”

“The requests for consultations in child psychiatry have increased, the delays have increased”, Claire Hédon told reporters, judging that the mental health of the child should become a “public priority”.

“Everyone in child psychiatry warns about the lack of resources, we cannot have six months or a year of waiting time to have an appointment with a shrink”, she noted, stressing the lack of child psychiatrists, psychologists in medico-psychological centers (CMP) and psycho-pedagogical medical centers “(CMPP), which provide public support.

However, “a very rapid care of a child in a difficult situation” can resolve the difficulties “in a few sessions”, while “if we let it drag on”, the consequences can be serious in the long term, including “at the end of the day”. adulthood, ”she notes. The Defender of Rights then called for a “longitudinal study on the long-term effects of the health crisis on the mental health” of young people.

“Mental health is one of the conditions for learning and academic success”, underlines Claire Hédon, warning that “a child who is not doing well will become an adult who is doing badly” and who will live in “a society that is doing well. wrong”.

Children and young people had the impression of not being listened to or consulted during this health crisis, observed the Ombudsman for Children.

“Left to their own devices” and neglecting to listen to harassment

“They were going back to high school to take assessments but when it came to learning, they were home alone, on their own,” he observed, noting that many of them did not consider more to continue their education.

The college students complained that “everything was focused on barrier gestures” and “were argued when the mask was poorly put on”. “This pressure has kept children away from learning”.

As for seeking treatment, it is impossible for a child if his parents do not have the initiative, he said, regretting the lack of speaking space for children.

Also on school bullying, the source of numerous complaints to the Defender of Rights, children are not listened to enough. “What strikes us each time is the reaction time of the educational institution to react. We did not know how to listen to the child in time, at the right time, we are surprised that he does not. have not spoken, but what have we planned to collect the child’s words? “lamented Claire Hédon.

The report makes 29 more general recommendations, in particular allowing each child to have access to childcare facilities, developing “parenting support” and opening “adolescent centers” in each department.

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