“Okay, come on, let’s show them we’re not just nice Care Bears!” “, launches a young red-haired woman joining the gathering. Thursday, June 10, they were around four hundred (according to the police) psychologists and psychotherapists to demonstrate in front of the Ministry of Health, Place Pierre-Laroque, in the 7e district of Paris. Other gatherings took place in nearly twenty French cities, in Bordeaux, Nice, Lyon and even Rennes. Their watchword: “Neither cheap nor submissive”.
The strikes of “shrinks” are rare. Used to listening, this time the members of this profession want to make their ” tired “, their ” Fed up “ and their “Anger”, responding to the call of several unions and organizations, including Force Ouvrière (FO), the National Union of Autonomous Trade Unions (UNSA), the French Federation of Psychologists and Psychology (FFPP) and the National Union of Psychologists (SNP) .
In particular, the protocol announced in March to offer reimbursement of psychotherapy consultations (only sessions with psychiatrists are already partially reimbursed by Medicare). In principle, all the people questioned are in favor. What the therapists criticize are the modalities, as Lucas explains, sunglasses on his nose and a sign “Uber shrink” by hand :
“Concretely, the patient will first have to go to a general practitioner who can prescribe ten thirty-minute sessions. Then the patient will have to return to the doctor to request ten more sessions. “
“22% of French people evoke a state of depression”
For this young psychologist, who has been practicing for eight years, “Nothing is going” in this statement. “It is up to us to assess the needs for psychological follow-up, not to general practitioners. It’s infantilizing. We finally know our job! “, he plague. Then, the obligation to go through a doctor can be ” intimidating “. “Calling on a shrink is not always easy. If in addition you have to go through a third party … For the patient, it can turn into an obstacle course. It’s completely counterproductive ”, says Lucas.
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“My consultations last an hour, sometimes longer. What do you want to do in just thirty minutes? The patient does not have time to open up, to really get to the bottom of things. It’s not a humane way to treat people ”, annoys Karine. Psychologist for fifteen years, she insists on the fact that “Each treatment is different” :
“Psychological follow-up cannot be formalized. What am I supposed to tell my patient after 20 sessions? “Are you still depressed? It’s nerd, you were only entitled to twenty reimbursed consultations… ””
“And then it’s not as if everyone has a moral of the fire of God right now”, quips a young woman near Karine, who nods to confirm. Depression, sleep disorders, eating disorders, anxiety … after more than a year of the Covid-19 pandemic and restrictions, still present, the mental health of French people is strongly affected : “Twenty-two percent say they are depressed”, warns the Psy Manifesto collective in a press release.
Also listen Covid-19: the mental health of the French undermined
The most vulnerable populations are particularly vulnerable. By way of comparison with the period prior to the appearance of Covid-19, a national survey by Public Health France carried out in 2017 estimated that 10% of the population had then experienced a depressive episode in 2016.
“At no time were we consulted”
Besides “Inadmissible working conditions”, as Karine points out, it is also the price “Derisory” and “Shameful” reimbursed consultations which is pointed out: 22 euros. “Once the charges are removed – rent, training, supervision [le fait pour un thérapeute d’être aidé et encadré par un confrère] – I have 7 euros left. Economically, this is not sustainable, it makes our business even more precarious ”, summarizes Anna, psychologist for twelve years.
The result, she explains, “Is that we will have to multiply the appointments to compensate. But a shrink who does twenty consultations a day is a tired shrink, and a tired shrink is a shrink not available to his patients. They are the ones who will suffer ”.
The bitterness is all the stronger since, compared to their level of education, psychologists and psychotherapists already consider themselves insufficiently remunerated. “I have a bac + 5 and I earn 1,400 euros net part-time per month. It’s shabby ”, loose Nathalie, a graduate for twenty years. Alberic, Rebecca and Catalina work in the hospital. Under a large sign “Black Freud Day”, these young psychologists detail their salary scale: 1,600 euros at the start of their career – “The same level as a nurse who must follow a three-year training course” – and 1,800 euros after four years of practice.
“We exercise a profession that is clearly not valued enough”, exposes with a sigh Claire, a psychologist for twenty years. This forties wins “Around 1,900 euros”. Proof of a “Widespread contempt” towards her profession, according to her.
“Many of us have been asking for reimbursement for consultations for years. The problem is that at no time were we consulted. I’m not surprised. It’s a habit to ignore shrinks and mental health issues. “