The health crisis has at the same time aggravated and revealed the extent of the problem: "about 1.6 million children and adolescents suffer from a mental disorder," says the Court of Auditors, stressing that in this area, the France is "in the average" of rich countries.

Half of these young people, i.e. "between 750,000 and 850,000" per year, "benefit from care provided in child psychiatry", most of the time in medical-psychological centers (CMP) "overwhelmed by requests".

And for good reason: the number of dedicated beds in hospitals (around 2,200 today) has fallen by 60% in 30 years, while the number of specialized doctors (just over 2,000 currently) has fallen by a third over the last decade.

Yet more than €3 billion is spent each year on child psychiatry in the broad sense, both in health and social structures. The Court of Auditors considers that this money "could be better used", even if "it is a cause that deserves to have the appropriate funding", said its president Pierre Moscovici at a press conference.

Thus, to relieve CMP and allow them to "devote themselves to the follow-up of moderate to severe disorders", the report recommends relying on the 25,000 liberal psychologists, who "are intended to gradually take a place in the care pathway".

The Court also suggests relieving CMPs of their missions of assessment and guidance of young patients, who represent "nearly 50% of their work". To this end, it recommends the creation of "childhood and adolescent centres", which could "ensure more effective front-line care".

As for hospitals, which receive the most serious cases, the report recommends a "strengthening of the number of child psychiatry beds", but "in limited number" and "by redeployment of adult beds".

© 2023 AFP