This summer, the French Minister of Health and Social Affairs, Agnès Buzyn, together with the Secretary of State for Disabled Persons, Sophie Cluzel, presented the government’s roadmap for mental health and psychiatry for the next years (Feuille de route santé mentale et psychiatrie). It includes – for the first time in history! – e-mental health and – we are proud to report it!! – the eMEN project.
The situation of people living with mental health problems in France is worrying. The demand for care is constantly increasing, particularly for anxiety disorders, psycho-trauma, behavioural disorders and addictions. These disorders are among the main causes of morbidity and mortality. Indeed, according to the WHO, one in four people are affected by mental health problems at some point in their lives. However, prevention and early intervention are insufficient, and diagnosis is too late. Care paths are characterized by too many breaks. Social inclusion and access to an active and civic life corresponding to people's capacities and choices are insufficient, and the stigmatisation of mental health problems is still too pronounced.
The government’s new roadmap for mental health and psychiatry is a comprehensive plan to change the way we look at mental health and psychiatry, at mental health problems and at people directly or indirectly touched by such problems. The document also aims to promote empowerment, social inclusion and care access for people touched by mental health problems.
Mental health promotion and prevention are mentioned as one of the main axes of the roadmap and, in this framework, e-mental health is mentioned as a tool, a lever for action and a possible solution.
Indeed, the document states that digitalisation and innovation are the main focus of the digital transformation of the French health system. It confirms that mental health will benefit from these dynamics because of the economical and societal challenges in this broad field, which ranges from the promotion of well-being to the support of mental disability, including prevention and epidemiological surveillance issues. The roadmap mentions that many applications and connected objects are developing to help promote a state of well-being and to fight depression, anxiety, insomnia, addictions, etc.
In parallel, serious therapeutic games, telemedicine offers to consult a mental health professional and the use of artificial intelligence to predict peaks in suicidal behaviour on social networks are investing in the mental health sector. In addition, digital simulation technologies applied to the training of professionals offer new pedagogical perspectives. However, it also confirms that the use of e-mental health potential in France is one of the lowest in Europe. The roadmap therefore affirms its engagement with promoting e-mental health development and its support for initiatives such as the Interreg NWE eMEN project, whose efforts and work are highly welcomed.