The mental health of the French is improving, but the young people remain fragile

Published on June 22, 2022 at 7:30 am

Women are more affected by anxiety and depression syndromes – © Getty Images

According to a study by the Department of Research, Studies, Evaluation and Statistics (Dress), people belonging to the poorest 20% are the most affected by mental health problems.

After deteriorating with epidemic waves and confinements, the mental health of the French is improving: in the summer of 2021, it had generally returned to its level before the health crisis according to a survey by the Research Department , studies, evaluation and statistics (Drees).

But despite a positive development, people suffering from the most severe depressive syndromes and young people are still very affected by mental health problems.

In July 2021, minor and major depressive syndromes concerned 11% of the population aged 16 or over (12% of women and 9% of men): a rate “back to 2019 level”, before the health crisis, indicates the survey released Wednesday.

Progression of major syndromes

“This apparent stability, however, masks a certain worsening of the situation, with an increase in major syndromes, masked by a decline in minor syndromes”, specifies the Drees, the statistics service of the health and social ministries.

People suffering from the most severe major depressive syndromes were indeed still more numerous than in 2019, with 6% of women and 4% of men concerned. For women aged 16 to 24, this figure rises to 10%.

This entire age group, men and women combined, remains the most exposed: it has not returned to pre-pandemic levels, even if the rates of minor and major depressive syndromes marked in the summer of 2021 “a decline “.

A quarter of the young women concerned

If anxiety syndromes are taken into account in addition to depressive symptoms, the rate of people concerned rises to 16% of the population (12% of men and 19% of women). And “more than a quarter of women aged 16 to 24 are affected by one or other of these syndromes”, add the authors of this third study.

According to the survey, which covers 85,000 people questioned from June 24 to August 6, 2021, social criteria are decisive. “Suicidal thoughts, the use of care or even the presence of a psychiatric diagnosis are marked by strong social inequalities” sums up the Drees. “It is among people whose household belongs to the poorest 20% that the rates of degraded indicators are the highest”.

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