the discomfort of young people continues to worsen
7 mins read

the discomfort of young people continues to worsen

We have collected the lengthy testimony of two young people affected by this phenomenon. Mathilde, 24, a veterinary school student, has been unwell for six years. Her first symptoms appeared when she was in preparatory classes in Bordeaux. “I had anxiety attacks, tetany attacks”she says. “I could no longer move, speak… Repeated discomfort. I cried a lot, every evening, even when I was doing things I loved.”

“I had a lot of years of insomnia, with just one or two hours of sleep a night.” A deep malaise with also very dark ideas, which she does not prefer to dwell on. She goes out very little, is afraid of crowds, and the period of confinement, during Covid, has not helped anything. “I was (confined) with two close friends and I didn’t see the rest of the world. But then, coming back with everyone returning to the streets, it’s a big change.”

“There is a huge gap between our parents’ generation and us”

A brutal change, even, which still marks it today. Mathilde is still agoraphobic. She owes her reconstruction phase a lot to her friends: they are the ones who noticed changes in her behavior. “They pushed me to go see doctors. I was diagnosed with depression, they told me to go see psychologists to try to talk. It helped me a lot! Talking to someone I we don’t know, it’s hard at first but it’s good, it helps us analyze what we think.

Sick, Mathilde agrees to take medication to calm her anxieties. Today, she lives in the Paris suburbs, in a student residence: 12 m², a desk, a bed, a sofa and a pet rabbit. It’s her “cocoon”, where she takes refuge when she’s not feeling well. Because the subjects that worry him are always very numerous: “All the political and environmental stories don’t help us to have peace of mind in life. There is a huge gap between our parents’ generation and us.”

Her anxieties have not completely disappeared but she feels more peaceful today… She is also not immune to new shocks. But she feels better equipped to face them.

“There is an urgent need to take care of ourselves”

Romain experienced an acute depressive attack during Covid… The student is 22 years old today, and his anxieties date back to his high school period: fear of judgment from others, fear of not being loved… “A lot of thoughts, a lot of thoughts in my head. Which prevented me from having perspective on what was happening. We call it anxious thoughts, it criticizes your self-esteem, and it devalues ​​you all the time, and It stops you from living in the present moment.”

As for Mathilde, the health crisis and the Covid have reinforced her anxieties. He even fell into an addiction to video games: he spent his entire days in front of his console. “I was playing a lot to escape this situation, where I’m not very well mentally. It allows me to forget this state, and to put this anxious and depressive process to sleep. But it’s just pushing the thoughts away, and it’s not not by running away will we settle the matter.”

Today, Romain is rebuilding himself. He is in civic service, raising awareness among middle and high school students about sex life and mental health. He doesn’t understand why it’s still a taboo subject. He calls for a start in the face of this public health scourge: “Mental health is invisible. We have to succeed in making it more visible, the State has to move. To ensure that we can talk about it and find solutions. There urgently needs to take care of us.”

“A generation sacrificed in a few years”

There is urgency: this observation is all shared by mental health specialists. According to figures from the study carried out by the University of Bordeaux, which we are revealing to you this morning in partnership with Marianne magazine, 41% of students present depressive symptoms (they were 26% before Covid). That’s 15 points more in just four years. Over the same period, suicidal thoughts among 18-24 year olds increased from 21 to 29%. Their anxieties are known: economic difficulties, increasingly selective and therefore stressful studies, unemployment… And to make matters worse, certain societal factors are weighing down young people’s morale. They almost all cite the geopolitical context, with international conflicts and climate change, which makes their future ever more uncertain.

The problem is that the support structures are overloaded. The observation is the same in hospitals, in medical-psychological centers or among private doctors: far too many patients and not enough doctors, not enough specialized structures. In his general policy declaration on January 30, Prime Minister Gabriel Attal assured that he wanted to make the mental health of young people a “great cause of government action”. “It’s time to put in the resources, a lot of resources”explains a head of the psychiatric department of a Parisian hospital. “If we don’t pull out all the stops now, we will be dealing with a sacrificed generation in a few years.”

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