7. Health and Well-Being
11-30 year olds in France are in good health overall. According to the 2021 DJEPVA barometer on youth, in 2018 (the latest data available), only 16.6% of young French people aged 16 to 29 said they had a health problem or a long-term illness. Eighty-nine per cent considered their general health to be 'good or very good'. Among 15-24 year olds, the mortality rate is 0.19 for women and 0.45 for men per 1,000, a rate that has been decreasing over the last 20 years. It should be noted, however, that the health crisis has had a significant impact on young people's mental health since this study.
But although this population considers itself to be in good physical and mental health, young people's health is still a concern for the public authorities, not least because adolescence and young adulthood are a pivotal time when physiological and mental changes are taking place and new behaviours and practices are taking hold – including at-risk ones that are likely to become difficult to shake off.
Above all, the regularly quoted figures show the significant gap in health between children from advantaged and disadvantaged families, which calls for the strengthening of prevention policies and early and sustained action. Today, the life expectancy of the wealthiest 5% of French people is 11 years higher than that of the poorest 5%.
A range of stakeholders are involved in public youth health policies in France (such as national and local public authorities, professionals in the health, education and social action spheres, associations aimed at combating social exclusion and youth-oriented centres), which usually form part of comprehensive public health policies but address issues that are specific to young people.
Mental health, preventing addictive behaviours, sexual health, physic activity, nutrition and accessing rights to health are the public authorities' main fields of action in terms of youth health.
Increasing the well-being of all young people and reducing health inequalities between them, fostering access to rights to health and improving prevention and health promotion policies, when French public health policies have tended, historically, to give precedence to the curative approach, are all examples of challenges to which the national authorities and other youth advocates need to find answers.