In Occitania, school nurses warn of the malaise of adolescents

the essential
School phobia, anxiodepressive disorders… The feeling of ill-being is said to be increasingly present in adolescents whose medical follow-up is complicated by the lack of doctors or resources.

After two years of pandemic, the start of the 2022 school year has been described as “normal” in schools in France and Navarre. No more mask and almost no more health protocol! Something to delight college and high school students. Despite this good news, are they doing so well? What has been the impact of the past two years on their physical and mental health? On the front line to identify their discomfort, school nurses are worried.

In a high school in Toulouse: “I became a specialist in school phobia”

“In my school of 2,000 students, so many of them are not doing well at the start of the year that I have become a specialist in school phobia and other anxiety-depressive disorders! even summarizes Anne, school nurse from a wealthy high school in the hyper-center of Toulouse, and member of the National Union of Nurse Health Advisors (SNICS-FSU). According to her, the successive confinements followed by multiple periods of restrictions on outings and movements, have exploded a sum of latent problems among young people from all backgrounds. She estimates that today consultations related to anxiety and depression represent 80% of her activity.

In Castelsarrasin: “I hand them a handkerchief rather than a tablet”

In Castelsarrasin in the Tarn-et-Garonne, Ingrid Desplats, a nurse at the Jean de Prades high school, more or less makes the same observation. She is also the only nurse in this establishment of 900 students and finds that the morale of the teenagers is gloomy. “I see about thirty students a day, many of whom say they are in a situation of ill-being, not necessarily because of schooling, whereas last year it was more like twenty,” assesses the caregiver.
Everything often starts with the sacrosanct “stomach ache”, but behind bobology, the difficulty is to detect suffering. “I hand them a handkerchief rather than a pill, I take the time it takes. I also see a lot of scarifications and sometimes students who tell me that they tried to swallow pills the day before. When I think they are in imminent danger, I call the parents and sometimes even the SAMU, ”says Anne, the Toulouse nurse.

The boomerang effect of medical deserts

In Toulouse, resources exist to address these young people in a situation of ill-being, in particular the home for adolescents, which allows free consultation with a psychologist by appointment or access to care anonymously. Since last April, the national “MonPsy” system has also given the right to eight free sessions with a psychologist on prescription from the attending physician.

“But in the countryside, medical desertification considerably complicates the follow-up of these young people”, deplores Ingrid Desplats in Castelsarrasin. In post in the National Education for 13 years, she saw the situation deteriorate sharply. “Previously, family doctors were one of the pillars of the student’s health, today many are those who tell me, I don’t have a doctor, or else, the home for adolescents is 30 km from home, I can’t go. »

“After a while, we can’t do it anymore”

In this emergency context, it becomes difficult for school nurses to carry out their mission of care, with prevention and sexuality education. “I fight to do it; but I have my nose in the grindstone all the time, and the health crisis has put us in difficulty with additional vaccination and screening missions. After a while, you can’t do it anymore,” admits Anne. According to the SNICS-FSU, there are 7,000 school nurses in France and 326 in the Toulouse academy, but the profession is shrinking. Figures and a trend that the rectorate could not confirm.

Resource available: Youth Health Wire with an anonymous and free number for 12-25 year olds: 0800 235 236

In Occitania, school nurses warn of the malaise of adolescents