Illustration of a stressed young woman sitting on a couch at home ©BelgaImage
Domestic violence, harassment, prostitution, dropping out of school, suicidal thoughts: several youth workers in the Wallonia-Brussels Federation sounded the alarm on Thursday on the growing distress of young people, which urgently calls for a “strong transverse response” of the policy as well as a refinancing of the sector, according to them.
The wave caused by the Covid “is still there”
If the health crisis seems to have calmed down somewhat for the time being, the psychological distress it has generated among young people and families is far from being resolved, according to these actors, among whom are directors of psycho-medical centers -Social (CPMS), parents of official education, child psychiatrists, youth aid workers or even a juvenile judge, all faced with a glaring lack of resources. “No, the wave is not over! She is still there! And the damage we do today to these young people, we will pay dearly for them tomorrow“, warns Véronique Dethier, political secretary of the Federation of parents’ associations of official education (Fapeo).
Read: Youth mental health services ‘overwhelmed’
To manage this psychological distress caused by the successive confinements, the centers PMS had received exceptional aid from the government of the Wallonia-Brussels Federation to increase their numbers. But this financial support will stop on November 30, the government of the Wallonia-Brussels Federation recently decided. “We will therefore have to reduce our interventions when it is already difficult for us to respond to all the requests“, laments Nicolas Lejeune, spokesperson for the collective ‘Faut l’dire’ which brings together several directors of CPMS in Wallonia and Brussels.
“What helps young people are the young people themselves”
As a counterpoint to this reduction in resources to the CPMS, the Federal government has decided to increase the resources for psychological care, this financial support increasing from 39 to 152 million euros. But for the actors in the field, rather than curative, it is in the preventive that it would be advisable to invest as a priority, in particular via the CPMS, this in order to limit downstream the psychological treatments of these young people, even their placement in institutions. . “The government’s response is not up to the challenge“, judges Sophie Maes, child psychiatrist and manager at the psychiatric hospital Le Domaine (ULB). “These additional means are for individual care when what is needed is more prevention and collective management. Young people in difficulty do not confide in their parents. What helps young people are the young people themselves. It is to allow them to confide in each other. Hence the importance of the collective, and the role of the CPMS“, she insists.
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A plea supported by Michelle Meganck, youth judge in Brussels, for whom more effective action upstream of the chain makes it possible to avoid increasingly restrictive measures thereafter. “What is done before should not be done after…“, sums up the magistrate in one sentence. Faced with this situation, these actors on the ground appeal to all levels of power in Belgium to collectively take up their responsibilities and release financial means up to the challenge “so that children in distress can have what they are entitled to“.
Alongside this lack of financial resources, all also point to the Belgian institutional complexity which, according to them, does not help to optimally take on this challenge, with competences now split between the Federal, the Regions and the Federation. Wallonia-Brussels. “I’m not advocating any refederalization, but today we have a completely fragmented system to deal with children who are whole“, concludes Michelle Meganck.