What is the situation in your department since the start of the health crisis?
In March-April 2020, we had very few requests. On the other hand, since January, it is the explosion! We receive a whole slice of the population that we have never seen before. The service is full, especially with pre-teen girls. Many arrive directly at the emergency room.
What are these children suffering from?
It is a discomfort that we are very little used to seeing… There are many situations of school phobia, as if children could no longer go to school after being confined. We also see a lot of young people who try to kill themselves or who scarify themselves.
What impact has the crisis had on their mental health?
Their problems are mainly linked to the fact that they were deprived of school for several months. A priori, the school level does not make a difference: we see excellent students, but who are unable to return to school. Social networks have also done a lot of damage: young people have managed to get angry from a distance, and sometimes had very violent exchanges that they would never have had in real life. This phenomenon already existed before, but there, it exceeded all levels.
How do you take charge of them?
When we can, we hospitalize them, but there are few places … Already, in normal times we work just in time, but there, with so many requests, we are forced to hospitalize some young people in pediatrics. I am at the point where I wonder if we will not be forced to deprogram our regular follow-ups to respond to emergencies.
Do some young people suffer more from this situation than others?
Obviously, there are the children beaten by their parents: they are very anxious at the idea of no longer having school and having to stay at home. I also work at EPMS Ar Brug with disabled children: there, we were able to continue remote care, but the situation remains very complicated… Many had to be hospitalized.
At the first signs, you must call us! Even if we don’t make an appointment right away, we always remind: always!
What signs should parents watch out for?
Anything that is not usual: it could be sleep disturbances, scarifications, stomach aches before going to school… Anything that changes and that calls out to parents. It is true that it can be complicated because among the young people that we see, many are 13-14 years old, and one can think of a crisis of adolescence. However, this often masks deeper problems.
What advice do you give parents?
What is needed is talking with your children: keeping a rhythm, meeting for meals… Social networks must also be limited if the children are not able to do it themselves. And above all, at the first signs, do not hesitate to call to make an appointment! We would rather see children who have little than to receive them later in a catastrophic state. Even if we don’t make an appointment right away, we always remind: always!
Child psychiatry practice at Morlaix Hospital, secretariat: Tel. 02 98 62 61 83.
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