This is not about seeking a special treatment for psychiatry, but rather about placing it on an equal footing with other disciplines, and ending the disadvantages it has endured for decades. This was the objective of the Manifesto we wrote at the end of May, the title of which, Avec l’urgence sanitaire, l’urgence psychiatrique (With a health emergency comes a psychiatric emergency) summarizes our analysis of both the situation created by Covid-19 and the challenges that remain.
You launched the CovidEcoute platform: what results have you had so far?
Less than a month after the beginning of the lockdown, FondaMental brought together partners and sponsors to launch CovidEcoute. The aim was to provide, free of charge, a highly professional response to the needs of those for whom Covid-19 and the lockdown induced suffering, anxiety, sadness, stress and even suicidal thoughts, as we found in 10% of cases.
After answering a short questionnaire to assess their level of stress, anxiety or sadness, users were offered advice and resources, such as access to various online mediation tools, depending on the difficulties encountered, to sites or content on subjects such as the functioning of the brain, self-help tools for mental health, etc. When necessary, they were also offered a 45-minute teleconsultation provided by a pro bono psychologist or psychiatrist, trained to support people suffering from post-traumatic stress. A file was opened for each teleconsultation A report of each teleconsultation was sent to the user, who could then, if necessary, contact the same professional again.
At a time when digital solutions have developed at high speed, a secure platform, the length of the teleconsultations, the very professional nature of the response and the possibility to stay in touch with the same healthcare professional are what have made CovidEcoute original and successful. The service has received a score of 4.5 out of 5 from its users.
In 6 weeks, more than 5,000 people reported on their mental state through the platform, with more than 1,500 teleconsultations involving individuals who had never consulted a psychiatrist or a psychologist before. The callers were 39 years old on average, and 69% of them were women.
The top three reasons for using CovidEcoute were sadness from being separated from loved ones (43%), aggravation of a psychological condition that already existed before Covid-19 (42%) and the lockdown (41%). These were followed by sleeping problems (37%) and difficulties related to overworking and managing daily life (20%). These results confirmed the urgent nature of the issue and the need for mental health professionals.
By providing immediate help and tackling the systemic response, CovidEcoute highlighted the urgent necessity to organize and improve assistance for people who are unaware of the warning signals or uninformed about the mental healthcare system, and who could thus neglect a serious, or even disabling pathology.
What are the challenges faced by psychiatry, following the lifting of the lockdown and its consequences?