Living on the street or in unsanitary and overcrowded hotel rooms has worrying consequences for the mental health of children, warn UNICEF France and Samu Social de Paris in a report published on Monday, October 10.
Anxiety, depression, mood disorders: the well-being of children deprived of “protective cocoon” of a real home can be affected in the short and medium term, but also in their future adult life, the two organizations point out.
Also read: At least 50,000 poorly housed or homeless children in France, warn associations
world mental health day
Among these minors, “a small minority is resilient and will grow, but the majority will pay for it”Child psychiatrist Bruno Falissard, who gave his experience to the authors of the report, published on the occasion of World Mental Health Day, told AFP.
The younger the child, the more detrimental their living conditions can be to their mental health, according to this specialist, especially if the young child is deprived. “to be warm, to have something to eat when you are hungry, to be comforted when things are not going well”.
“Environmental safety has tremendous therapeutic powersums up the doctor, for whom Giving a homeless person a roof works better than prescribing medicine”.
Also read: “A quarter of homeless people are former foster children”, warns the Abbé-Pierre Foundation
42,000 children in emergency accommodation and on the street
According to a count organized in August by Unicef France and the Federation of Solidarity Actors, “more than 42,000 children were living in emergency accommodation, makeshift shelters or on the streets”the report points out.
Only a minority of these minors sleep outdoors, “But beware! Life in a hotel or hostel also has enormous consequences on the mental health of children”underlines the president of Unicef France, Adeline Hazan.
Also read: “We are not used to it”: more than 1,600 homeless children, according to an associative group
Unsanitary conditions and overcrowding
Overcrowded, unhealthy and precarious living spaces can become “sources of anxiety” and weigh on self-esteem, sleep, diet, stress. “We should have hotels especially for families, not with people who drink. We have to be safe”testifies Adèle, 13, quoted in the report.
“I eat in my bed”, regrets Julio, 15, who lives with his family in a 9 m2 hotel room. A small size that can lead to tensions, even “domestic violence and abuse”say the report’s authors.
According to them, public authorities should “strengthen resources” of the lack of mental health provision “cruelly” of professionals However, this lack is even more noticeable for homeless children, due to a “discontinuity in care pathways” and the impossibility of poor families to pay the excessive fees of private doctors.