France is depressed, the business of anxiety is flourishing

“I’ve had suicidal thoughts at times and I’m not proud of that. We sometimes believe that this is the only way to silence them, these thoughts that make us live through hell…” This January 9, 2022, the performance of Stromae, which reveals to the TF1 newscast its new title, Hell, do not go unnoticed. A stroke of marketing genius from the singer, after a media absence of almost seven years? What does it matter! By evoking his ill-being at prime time, the Belgian has laid bare a reality that many keep silent for fear of the judgment of others or out of shame.

A few words that will then release those of thousands of other people. The day after its switch to “8 p.m.”, the 3114 switchboard, the national suicide prevention number launched by the government in October 2021, exploded under calls from French people in psychological distress.

The discomfort is palpable. It certainly does not date only from the Covid-19 pandemic, but it is clear that it has worsened in recent years. The figures from the CoviPrev study, launched by the French public health agency to monitor mental health indicators during the pandemic, attest to this.

At the beginning of May, 25.4% of those questioned showed signs of an anxious state (12 points more than in 2017), 15.1% showed signs of a depressive state and 67.2 % reported suffering from sleep disorders. Even more alarming, 11.3% of the panel indicated having had suicidal thoughts, an increase of nearly 3 points in the space of a year. A rather dark panorama. It worries professionals in the sector, who are seeing new cases pass by.

A “multitude of factors”

According to a study published Monday, June 27 by the online platform for booking medical appointments Doctolib, consultations with psychiatrists increased by 32% in 2021 while those with psychologists exploded from 2.97 million in 2020. to more than 6 million in 2021. And the rush does not seem to be slowing down: in the first quarter of 2022, the number of searches on the platform to find a psychologist jumped 69% year on year. As for those to find a psychiatrist, they increased by 48%. Not to mention the rush on self-help books, yoga classes and on so-called “alternative” medicine, sophrology, hypnosis, naturopathy: practitioners’ offices are multiplying in cities, attracting a clientele who sometimes struggle to navigate the jungle of these poorly regulated professions.

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