The French government worried about the consequences of COVID on youth mental health
The crisis we are experiencing today is not only health-related, it is also economic and social. This is due to the measures that have been put in place by governments. In France, the government is now talking about the possibility of a third containment. This announcement only destroys the hopes of the population to return to a normal situation where all businesses would be open, where people could go to their workplace or where young people could go to school and university. Young people are the people least affected by the health aspect of the crisis. They are little affected by the disease. Nevertheless, they are strongly impacted by the economic and social crisis resulting from COVID in terms of their psychological health, learning and standard of living.
A heavy impact on the mental health of young people
The National Assembly has set up a commission of inquiry into the effects of the Covid-19 crisis on young people and according to deputies Sandrine Mörch and Marie-George Buffet they are alarming. For 4 months, they have interviewed and interviewed young people from different social, economic and cultural backgrounds. Half of the young people interviewed are worried about their mental health and one student out of 6 has dropped out of school. Depression is increasing as well as suicide attempts. Indeed, according to a study by the Fage 23% of the students had suicidal thoughts.
Young people face many difficulties in terms of following courses at a distance, loneliness, loss of future prospects and precariousness. By reading the many testimonies that can be found on social networks that we understand the extent of the damage. Indeed, one young student confided, “There is a lack of perspectives, there is the anguish of not finding internships, of opportunities [with this crisis]” while another declared that “at the beginning, I was holding on, I told myself ‘it won’t last’. But in December, it became too difficult, I really dropped out”.
Youth calling for government action
Young people feel like the forgotten ones in the management of the health crisis. They are trying their best to make the government understand the need for new measures that would protect young people from the adverse effects of the health crisis because they are afraid of the future. They challenge government officials on social networks, share their discomfort and frustrations on an Instagram account, write open letters, try to make themselves visible through the hashtag #Étudiantsfantômes or organize protests in the streets so that they are no longer forgotten by the crisis.
A government struggling to put in place adequate measures
As a result, the government is putting in place measures to address the negative consequences of the health crisis. In July 2020, it launched the “Un jeune, une solution ” plan. This plan aims to promote the professional integration of young people. On January 21, Emmanuel Macron announced the implementation of a 1euro meal plan in university restaurants for all students. Nevertheless, these measures remain insufficient, what students want is the reopening of universities so that they can end this isolation. It is in the government’s best interest to listen to them. As the parliamentary report mentioned above points out, university health services “are not sized to meet the needs of students”. Actually,there is only one university psychologist for about 30,000 students. A whole generation with mental health disorders is undesirable for the future of the country.
The integration of young refugees: an important work to which international organizations and NGOs are committed.
Youth representing the majority of asylum seekers in UE
Young people are the people who make the most requests for asylums in EU countries. In fact, in 2015, 83% of asylum seekers were under 35 years old. 53% of the total number of asylum seekers, formulated for the first time, are young people between 18 and 34 years old. For minors, this was 29%. In view of these figures, EU member countries should implement integration and inclusion solutions for young people in this situation. Priority should be given to young refugees.
R*****e youth as facing two phases of transition
R*****e youth are vulnerable people facing a double phase of transition. On the one hand, a personal transformation due to their age and, on the other hand, the arrival in a new society of which they do not know the codes. They will have to face a world filled with uncertainty and in which they risk violence or discrimination. Added to this are the difficulties and privations they have experienced during their journey. In fact, a report published by UNICEF, entitled A right to be Heard: Listening to children and young people on the move, makes an alarming observation. For example, this survey shows that 38% of the participants were not helped by anyone, be it family, friends or institutions.
Recommendations made by various organizations to states that do not have mandatory values
Guidelines were adopted in the Council of Europe in 2019. Their aim is to guarantee additional temporary help after the age of 18 for young refugees. These guidelines are part of a Council of Europe action plan on the protection of r*****e and migrant children in Europe, which a priori seems promising for their future. Other international actors, such as UNICEF, are trying to put pressure on governments to improve the situation. Nevertheless, the problem here is that these recommendations are not binding, they are only recommendations. It is the states that have the sovereignty to adopt and implement concrete measures to help them.
The necessary reinforcement of Youth work by NGOs and international organizations
As a result of this observation, it will be necessary to promote and strengthen the Youth Work operated by international organizations and NGOs. Programs such as Erasmus+ fund projects and activities aimed at promoting the integration of migrants in all sectors of education and training. As its name suggests, Youth Work focuses on youth, including young refugees and other young people from third countries. It is thanks to this work that young refugees will be able to benefit from non-formal education aimed at facilitating the active participation of young people and their inclusion in their communities and in decision-making.
In spite of these actions, there is still a long way to go until young refugees benefit from full respect for their rights and concrete measures for their integration.
The impact of COVID 19 on the most vulnerable populations, particularly women.
It has now been more than a year since the coronavirus 2019 appeared in Wuhan in Hubei province and then spread around the world. Governments have generally taken restrictive measures to stop the spread of the virus. The problem is that these restrictions will affect human rights in general. However, the repercussions will have a more serious impact on vulnerable people, especially women and girls.
A Pandemic with More Serious Impacts for Women and Girls
The COVID-19 pandemic is impacting women at different levels.
First, since the beginning of the epidemic, there has been an increase in violence against women and girls. Indeed, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights has recognized that the current crisis is accompanied by such a resurgence of violence against women that we can speak of a “pandemic within the pandemic”. It is a question of the increase in so-called domestic violence but more generally the increase in sexist violence.
Also, at the United Nations General Assembly meetings, Israel notes that women at this time do not have access to sexual and reproductive health care. Indeed, overcrowded hospitals combined with travel restrictions make sexual and reproductive health services less accessible.
In addition, women suffer more severely from the effects of the economic crisis because their access to financial resources is more difficult and they often hold precarious jobs in the informal sector.
Finally, they are under-represented at the level of national management teams related to COVID-19 response and are therefore excluded from the decision-making system.
The search for solutions and opportunities to reduce gender inequalities.
The current crisis is indeed having a definite impact on women, but we can observe that it has created certain opportunities. Firstly, it has been highlighted during this crisis that women and girls have borne the disproportionate burden of care. Thus, this finding could allow the valorization of this work.
Second, States, aware of the lack of access to sexual and reproductive health services, are working to expand access to these services. This could have a lasting effect on the exercise of women’s and girls’ right to health.
Then, with regard to solutions governments recommended placing human rights at the heart of plans and policies. This begins with the involvement of women in the planning and decision-making phases of health crisis management. Secondly, it requires the support of organizations working for the access of women and girls to basic services and the protection of their rights. Next, gender-based violence must be addressed by strengthening prevention and protection services, hotlines and access to reliable information. Finally, unpaid care work performed by women must be recognized, the gender wage gap must be reduced, and fiscal and social protection policies must be adapted. This would allow for the economic empowerment of women and thus avoid the feminization of poverty.