Covid-19: Free psychological consultations for all

FIGARO TOMORROW – Consultations for the general public by professional volunteer psychologists set up during the first confinement are being structured today, in the face of growing demand.

Do not leave stressed people alone in the face of their anxieties arising from the health situation. This is the objective of several professional platforms born during the first confinement. “Demand is very strong and general practitioners and hospitals are overloaded ”, notes Antoine Pelissolo, psychiatrist at the Henri-Mondor Hospital in Créteil. Consequently, certain initiatives born in the emergency are structured to register in the long term.

The Psy Ile-de-France telephone platform was set up at the request of the Ile-de-France Regional Health Agency. In April 2020, in four days, Antoine Pelissolo, president of the collegiate of psychiatrists of the APHP and the GHU-Paris set up a telephone hotline at the single number: 01 48 00 48 00. If initially, it was primarily dedicated to the entourage and families of people suffering from mental pathologies, it is now open to everyone, allowing the general public to confide their suffering by telephone to a psychiatric nurse. This listens, analyzes, comforts and, if necessary, directs the person concerned to an experienced psychologist for a psychotherapy session by telephone. This mini-therapy, completely free, can last up to three sessions. This is the experience of a quarter to a third of callers.

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Whether nurses or psychologists, everyone is on the phone and volunteers. Psychiatric emergency nurses were seconded. As for the psychologists, during the first confinement, they did it on their working time but now this work is counted as overtime. “We receive about 20 phone calls a day. Since October, the number has continued to increase but we have the means to receive many more. People are very anxious ”, testifies Caroline, nurse. “There are a lot of couples who during confinement were afraid to hit each other, testifies Antoine Pélissolo. But also “People who usually find their valve outside the home and fall into an addiction to compensate for this impossibility”, explains Raffaela Cucciniello, who oversees the team of psychologists. “About half of the callers had never consulted a professional before”, specifies the latter. Today, Psy IDF is fully managed by the GHU-Paris.

Another, national initiative, CovidÉcoute was set up on April 15 by the FondaMental foundation, at the initiative of psychologist Stephany Pelissolo. The platform then offered one to four free consultations of three quarters of an hour, by appointment, with one of the 248 volunteer professionals of its choice, psychologists, psychiatrists or addictologists (today, their number has fallen to 90) . A quarter of callers used it more than once, face-to-face or by teleconsultation. “This involves a needs assessment, the definition of a strategy, the implementation of cognitive and behavioral therapy advice, the evaluation of the feedback and, if necessary, the referral to a general practitioner for drug treatment. , or even a psychiatrist or a CMP if long-term follow-up is necessary ”, explains Stéphany Pelissolo. We are therefore very far from associative listening services.

1,500 consultations and 100,000 visits to the site

A study conducted three weeks after the start of the experiment showed that the first three motivations of users were: sadness at being separated from their loved ones (43%), worsening of pre-existing suffering to the Covid crisis. 19 (42%) and the fact of no longer supporting confinement (41%). 1,500 free consultations took place during the first wave. The site, which also provides self-help resources (including downloadable meditation sessions) to everyone, has welcomed over 100,000 visitors. The platform is currently considering setting up versions dedicated to more targeted audiences, such as students or Covid patients.

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For Marion Leboyer, director of the FondaMental Foundation, our experience “Underlines the urgency of providing appropriate responses so as not to leave anyone without a therapeutic solution. Psychiatry faces a major issue, still invisible and underestimated today. CovidÉcoute responds to a real need that will not end with deconfinement.

More generally, Antoine Pélissolo, who intervened within the framework of the Big Bang Santé du Figaro dedicated to containment on October 20, considers that the health crisis could be an opportunity to teach more about adapting to new situations and to lead a reflection on prevention. The latter suggests in particular that programs be put in place from school to deal with stress. Between the health crisis, the looming economic crisis and climatic hazards, according to him, we may need it in the future.


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