NGOs urge French prime minister to develop a strategy for youth mental health – EURACTIV.com


UNICEF France and a dozen civil society associations sent a letter to Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne on Tuesday, on the occasion of World Mental Health Day, asking her to urgently develop an ambitious national strategy for the mental health of children and young people.

In France, almost one in five young people experienced a depressive episode in 2021, a figure 80% higher than in 2017, according to UNICEF, while the number of calls to SOS Amitié by young people under 14 increased by 40% in the same period.

“Mental health is obviously a public health issue, but it is first and foremost a fundamental right for every child,” Adeline Hazan, president of UNICEF France, said in a press release.

“As the situation continues to worsen, I reiterate our call for mental health to be a top priority so that every child can benefit from the support and care they need,” added Hazan.

In their release, UNICEF and the other signatory organisations made recommendations to the government, calling on it to collect more data on young people’s mental health, carry out awareness-raising campaigns, improve access to prevention and care, and pay special attention to children in the Overseas Territories.

According to the national public health agency Santé Publique France (SPF), the mental health of French people will continue to deteriorate in 2023, a trend that has been constant since September 2020. This deterioration mainly concerns adolescents and young adults (aged 18-24).

For example, in September 2023, emergency admission for suicidal acts and thoughts, depressive episodes and anxiety disorders increased in children under 18.

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“The data collected since 2020 testify to a deterioration in mental health among adolescents and young adults and to a still taboo perception of these issues,” Dr Caroline Semaille, executive director of the SPF, said in a press release published on Monday.

From now until December, SPF will broadcast videos on social media to raise mental health awareness and self-care among young people.

On 27 September, Borne said that “the mental health of young victims of harassment, and more generally of all young people, is a priority”.

(Clara Bauer-Babef | Euractiv.fr)

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