France is depressed, the fear business is booming

“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 go through hell…” This January 9, 2022, the performance of Stromae revealing its new title to the TF1 newscast, hell, do not go unnoticed. A marketing stroke of genius by the singer after almost seven years of media abstinence? What does it matter! By voicing his uneasiness in prime time, the Belgian has revealed a reality that many hide out of fear of judgment or out of shame. A few words that will then free those of thousands of other people. The day after the switch to “8pm”, the switchboard of 3114, the national suicide prevention number set up by the government in October, blew up under calls from French people in mental distress.

The discomfort is palpable. It’s certainly not just stemming from the Covid-19 pandemic, but it’s clear that it’s gotten worse in recent years. This is supported by the figures from the CoviPrev study launched by the French health authority to monitor mental health indicators during the pandemic. At the beginning of May, 25.4% of respondents showed signs of an anxious state (up 12 points from 2017), 15.1% showed signs of a depressed state and 67.2% reported having trouble sleeping. Even more alarmingly, 11.3% of the panel reported having had suicidal thoughts, an increase of nearly 3 points in one year. A rather dark panorama. It worries professionals in the industry who see new cases rolling by.

A “Multiple Factors”

Consultations with psychiatrists increased by 32% in 2021, while those with psychologists skyrocketed from 2.97 million in 2020 to over 6 million in 2021, according to a study published on June 27 by online medical appointment booking platform Doctolib . And the rush doesn’t seem to be slowing: In the first quarter of 2022, searches on the platform to find a psychologist increased by 69% year over year. As for finding a psychiatrist, they increased by 48%. Not to mention the rush for self-help books, yoga classes and about so-called “alternative” medicine, sophrology, hypnosis, naturopathy: urban medical practices are multiplying, attracting a clientele that sometimes has difficulty navigating the jungle of these poorly regulated professions.

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