7.5 Mental health
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The action plan "in favour of youth health and well-being"
The most recent governmental plan aimed at fostering good health and well-being among all 11-21 year olds was launched in 2016. It sought to prevent mental health problems and suicides during teenage, a common period for depression and suicidal thoughts. Some of the plan's measures are still in progress.
The action plan "in favour of youth health and well-being" (en faveur du bien-être et de la santé des jeunes) was drawn up jointly by the different government departments concerned, including the Ministry for Solidarity and Health, Ministry of National Education and Ministry of Sport,
It pursued four main thrusts:
- "Enable professionals to better identify the signs of mental health problems or suffering in adolescents or young adults, and help these professionals to address such situations;
- Find ways to ensure young people feel more supported and heard;
- Guide young people more effectively towards the competent professionals, facilitate early advice and action and diversify and improve available treatments whilst reducing the inequalities in this area;
- Develop shared monitoring of these problems and the emerging symptoms of contemporary adolescence."
Several key principles formed the cornerstone of this action plan:
- "multiple perspectives", in other words multidisciplinary collective efforts;
- "consideration of the potential of young people (the pupil) and their family";
- "early advice and action";
- "adaptation to different local areas".
Several government departments as well as a range of institutional stakeholders and associations working in the health sphere rallied to the cause of this plan, which was coordinated by the Ministry for Solidarity and Health overall. This interministerial and intersectorial cooperation particularly took shape in the signature of framework partnership agreements between centres for adolescents (See 7.2 Administration and governance) and the Ministry of National Education, which also signed an agreement with the Ministry for Solidarity and Health. The point of these agreements was to define the principles underpinning the cooperation developed as well as the plan's implementation in the local areas between the regional health agencies (ARS) and administrative national education bodies (local education authorities).
As part of the drafting process for the "Youth health and well-being" plan, a report entitled "Mission Bien-être et santé des jeunes" [Youth health and well-being mission], presenting health policy analyses and outlining recommendations for developing youth well-being and management of the plan in favour of health and well-being, was also written up. Some of the initiatives arising out of the trials of the "health & well-being" plan have been assessed.
The plan in favour of youth health and well-being set up the following initiatives:
This concerns a free series of appointments with psychologists, which is being trialled for a three-year period. A doctor can decide to suggest the series to young people, up to a limit of ten sessions including two assessment sessions. It is reimbursed on behalf of the young person. The purpose of this initiative is to bring mental health therapy within reach of the wider community.
- geo-localised information portal
A "thematic section" for young people is set to be added to the Santé.fr portal, the public health information service currently being developed. This will be an online portal where young people can access reliable, geo-localised health information.
Not only that, but a number of trials aimed at fostering and nurturing well-being at school have been rolled out in secondary schools and sixth-form colleges (lycées) by teaching staff in liaison with their local education authority and regional health agencies in particular. These trials are listed in the Directory of educational trials (Bibliothèque des expérimentations pédagogiques), " l’expérithèque".
Several guides have also been produced by the Ministry for Solidarity and Health and Ministry of National Education: "Une école bienveillante face aux situations de mal-être des élèves - Guide à l’ attention des équipes éducatives des collèges et des lycées" [A caring school environment to address pupils' mental health problems - Guide for the attention of lower and upper secondary teaching staff]; "Souffrances psychiques et troubles du développement chez l’ enfant et l’ adolescent - Guide de repérage à l’ usage des infirmiers et assistants de service social de l’ Education nationale" [Mental suffering and developmental disorders in children and adolescents - Guide to detection for use by National Education social service assistants and nurses]; as well as the guide "Agir sur le climat scolaire au collège et au lycée" [Acting on the school climate at secondary school and sixth-form college].