Covid-19: the harmful effects of the health crisis on the mental health of young people

In her annual report on the rights of the child, Defender of Rights Claire Hédon warns, Wednesday, November 17, about the harmful consequences of the health crisis on the state of mental health of young people.

“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, against more than 20% in 2020 ) “, notes 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.).

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School closures and distance education have worsened “The risks of addiction” on screens, noted the Children’s Defender Eric Delemar at a press conference on Tuesday. 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.

Public priority

“The requests for consultations in child psychiatry have increased, the delays have increased”, explained Mme Hedon, 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”, relieves Mme Hédon, stressing the lack of child psychiatrists, psychologists in medico-psychological centers (CMP) and psychopedagogical medical centers “(CMPP), which allow public care.

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Or “Very rapid care for a child in a difficult situation” can solve the difficulties “In a few sessions”, while “If we leave it lying around”, the consequences can be serious in the long term, including ” adulthood “, she notes, claiming a “Longitudinal study on the long-term effects of the health crisis on mental health” young people.

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

Twenty-nine recommendations

Children and young people had the impression of not being listened to or consulted during this health crisis, observed the Ombudsman for Children. “They went back to high school to take evaluations but when it came to learning, they were alone at home, left to their own devices”he observed, noting that many of them no longer considered continuing their studies.

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College students complained that “Everything was focused on barrier gestures” and “Were argued when the mask was badly 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.

With regard to bullying at school as well, 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 did not speak, but what have we planned to collect the child’s speech? “, deplores Mme Hédon.

The report makes 29 more general recommendations, in particular to allow each child to have access to childcare arrangements, to develop “Parenting support”, open “Adolescent houses” in each department.

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The World with AFP

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Covid-19: the harmful effects of the health crisis on the mental health of young people