Psychiatry: a long-awaited meeting for a discipline in crisis

Presented by the Ministry of Health as a “Historic moment of the national debate”, the Assises of mental health and psychiatry, a succession of round tables and conferences with players in the sector, over two days, will they provide concrete answers to the mental ailments of the French and to the distress of those who treat them? Announced by Emmanuel Macron on January 14, first scheduled for July, they will finally be held on September 27 and 28, by videoconference, and will be closed by the President of the Republic, a confirmation for some of the attention paid to the subject by the Elysee.

Revealed at the opening, the results of a consultation open to all, which collected nearly 15,000 contributions, confirm high expectations. On the professional side (10,000 of whom responded), the priorities are to promote jobs (57%), new human or financial resources (54%) and reinforce existing resources (54%). On the other hand, they are only 10% to consider a priority “a better taking into account of the rights of the people having or a psychic handicap”. As for the general public, 60% believe they are poorly informed about access to care and how it is organized.

The context is all the more perilous as the Covid-19 pandemic, with its deleterious effects on the mental health of the population, has worsened an already critical situation.

While mental disorders (depression, schizophrenia, anxiety disorders, addictions, etc.) concern millions of French people and represent the first item of expenditure for the general health insurance scheme by pathology, reports and forums have been accumulating for years to denounce an untenable situation, against the backdrop of strong disparities in the territory. “The working conditions and therefore the conditions of care have continued to deteriorate, causing suffering for the sick, their relatives and the medical teams”, already indicated to the World Pierre-Michel Llorca, head of department at Clermont-Ferrand CHU, in September 2018.

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“We are not going into the wall, we are already in”, now summarizes the psychiatrist Antoine Pelissolo in a text co-written with the deputy Boris Vallaud (Socialist Party), published in The world September 6. “As there were very useful presidential plans for cancer or Alzheimer’s disease, it is therefore urgent today to make mental health and psychiatry a great cause for the next five years”, they explain.

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