Psychological difficulties | A childhood in the fog

The data is unequivocal: serious psychological difficulties are on the rise among the young people of Quebec. Unfortunately, younger and younger children are affected. Among children under 14, between 2019 and 2021, there is a 28% increase in the use of antidepressants. A particularly marked phenomenon among boys aged 9 or younger and girls aged 10 or older.

Posted at 12:00

Karine Gauthier

Karine Gauthier
Psychologist-neuropsychologist, president of the Coalition of Psychologists of the Quebec Public Network and five other signatories *

These children are prescribed antidepressants as they can no longer go to school, sleep, eat properly or even play. A part of their childhood is stolen from them and it won’t come back to them.

Too often, we welcome young people whose parents, teacher, social worker or doctor had requested assistance from a psychologist long before the choice of antidepressants was necessary due to a serious malfunction. . But psychologists, unlike mental health problems, are becoming increasingly rare in our education and health networks. This leads to too long waiting times. Thus, the fog thickens around the child and his family.

Shouldn’t we as a society do everything we can to offer children an alternative treatment to antidepressants, namely psychotherapy? Even when antidepressants are prescribed, it is recommended to combine them with psychotherapy.

This is what Dr. Gilles Julien explained on February 11, 2022 in The gallery “The side effects of antidepressants cannot be taken lightly. They should be prescribed following an extremely rigorous diagnosis, always in association with psychotherapy. In Quebec, 80% of the professionals licensed to practice psychotherapy are psychologists.

Antidepressants do not allow the child and his family to learn to find meaning in their inner world, to tame the fears that invade them, to tolerate discomfort, to live their traumas or grief more peacefully.

Long-term effects

Little is known about the long-term effects of such drugs on such a young brain and body. Some suggest potential risks in terms of growth, bone density, or type II diabetes. There are also many question marks in relation to a possible withdrawal from this drug that started at such a young age; not to mention the possible side effects. Far be it from us to throw a stone at the doctors who prescribe them: they often have no other options since there are fewer and fewer psychologists accessible quickly and free of charge in the public network. For their part, parents do their best to help their child.

The contrast between this disturbing information and the solutions proposed by Minister Lionel Carmant worries us a lot. His usual response that relies on interdisciplinarity to solve problems of accessing mental health services ignores the need for action to attract and retain psychologists in our public network. Sure, all professionals are essential, but why does Minister Carmant refuse to address the serious shortage that affects psychologists?

Within two years, the Ministry of Health and Social Services estimates that there will be a shortage of more than 40% of psychologists in the health network as they mainly choose to work in the private sector.

We are often told “the right service at the right time”. However, this concept is difficult to apply as it often takes up to two years to access the services of an online psychologist. Too often, it is the most vulnerable children who pay the price.

Minister Carmant, action is urgently needed! We are waiting for your call to resume our discussions. Closing the door to solutions aimed at improving the access of psychologists and neuropsychologists to the public network is unacceptable. The consequences on our children and on society are too great.

* Co-signatories: Catherine Serra Poirierpsychologist, liaison vice president of the Quebec Public Network Coalition of Psychologists; Jenilee-Sarah Napoleonpsychologist, administrator of the Quebec Public Network Coalition of Psychologists; Youssef Allamipsychologist, administrator of the Quebec Public Network Coalition of Psychologists; Beatrice Filionpsychologist, vice president secretary of the Quebec Public Network Coalition of Psychologists; Connie Scuccimaripsychologist, administrator of the Quebec Public Network Coalition of Psychologists

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