“We must get out of this situation which condemns millions of our fellow citizens to suffer their illness”

Lental health is the issue of the 21ste century. And yet, the resulting illnesses remain hidden and stigmatized. Already the leading cause of disability worldwide since 2020, these disorders – in particular anxiety-depressive and cognitive – have increased sharply with the crisis linked to the Covid-19 pandemic. They have particularly affected young people and fear that they will have a lasting impact on the future of our societies. The social and economic costs of these pathologies are considerable: a reduced life expectancy of fifteen to twenty years, and, in France, the first item of health insurance expenditure, ahead of cancers and cardiovascular diseases, with direct and indirect expenditure of 160 billion euros per year.

However, mental health remains the poor relation of our health system. Research, whether private or public, does not sufficiently meet the needs. Funding for public research in psychiatry represents only 2% to 4% of the budget for biomedical research in France, one of the lowest of European countries, four times less, proportionally, than that of the United States. As for industrial research, she considers that this field remains too risky and does not engage much in it.

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The same is true for medical careers: nearly 30% of psychiatric positions are vacant in France. And mental illnesses are arguably one of the last social taboos. The floor has not yet been released on this subject. People living with a psychiatric disorder are stigmatized and still do not dare to talk about their disability.

A fight to be won

It is time to get out of this situation which condemns millions of our fellow citizens to suffer their disease rather than to fight it, with a very largely insufficient therapeutic arsenal. Science and technology, through the innovation they bring, today allow unprecedented opportunities that must be seized, without delay, to improve prevention, treatment and care for sick people.

Also read the column: Article reserved for our subscribers “To stigmatize psychiatry is to rob you of the choice of access to care”

In 2003, the first Cancer plan and then those that followed made it possible to structure the French scientific community around shared issues. Progress was then dazzling: between 1990 and 2015, survival decreased by 21 points for prostate cancer, 9 points for breast cancer and 11 points for lung cancer. Beyond that, it is the image of cancer that has radically changed. Illness, which was taboo, has become a battle to be won.

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