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Mental healthcare in France

Updated: Sep 17, 2022


Learn more about the state of mental health in France and how to get in touch with mental healthcare professionals in the nation by reading this article.


It is well known that France has a long tradition of investing in the physical health of its population. However, mental health is approached in a very different manner in France, which may make it challenging for newly arrived individuals in the nation to have access to the proper assistance.


When it comes to certain concerns, it might be more challenging to get assistance as an expat since, in essence, assistance is geared more toward locals. It is feasible for an expat to seek assistance, although doing so may not come naturally to them.


Cigna Global

Talking to the medical professionals at Cigna Global can help guarantee that you will have access to expat-friendly mental health care and services in France, regardless of whether you are moving to France with your family or beginning a new life on your own. You may have access to their worldwide network of qualified specialists to guarantee that you will obtain the therapy that is most appropriate for you and your requirements. Cigna Global can provide you with the assurance you need right now.


COVID-19 in France


Everyone has had a rough time during this period of the COVID-19 epidemic. A significant number of people who go abroad find themselves cut off from their friends and loved ones back in their native country. As a foreigner, it might be difficult at times to discover essential information on the prevalence of coronavirus infection, local measures and limits, and now, luckily, vaccines. Vaccinations are now available.



Visit the official Coronavirus (COVID-19) website to get information on the overall coronavirus situation in France, including vaccination regimens and the most recent restrictions.


Consult our guide on the COVID-19 pandemic in France if you would need information specifically about how the COVID-19 pandemic impacts France.



Overview of mental health in France


Patients in France have access to mental health therapies via their national healthcare system, and these services are either completely free of charge or are subsidised in some way. Recent studies indicate that around one in every five persons living in France struggles with some kind of mental illness. Foundation de France estimates that there are around three million persons in France who are afflicted with severe mental disease.

However, during the last several years, there has been a rising fear that the country's services are unable to keep up with the expanding demand. One hundred French psychiatrists voiced their concerns about the quality of mental healthcare services in a letter that was delivered to the French minister of health in January 2019. In France, the coronavirus has been linked to several concerns relating to mental health, including anxiety, depression, and sleep disturbances. According to the findings of a poll, the percentage of individuals who are afflicted with depression has climbed from 15.5% on October 21, 2020, to 22.6% on November 25, 2020.

More than 7% of the population of France, or over three million individuals, reported having given some thought to terminating their life in 2017, according to information provided by the French authorities in charge of public health. A little less than 5% had entertained thoughts of ending their own lives in the preceding year. 0.4% of the people had made an effort to take their own lives. These sobering statistics demonstrate that France already had a problem with mental health even before the coronavirus was discovered.


Mental healthcare services in France


The majority of mental healthcare in France is delivered using Medical Psychological Centers (if you click the link, you will be taken to a list of hospitals known as centre médico-psychologique – CMPs, which are affiliated with these Medical Psychological Centers). These facilities, which may be found adjacent to any hospital in France, provide services that are for the most part free of charge and are covered by the national health insurance programme.

Certain specialised services need a down payment. These facilities are managed by a variety of medical professionals, including psychiatrists, psychologists, nurses, social workers, occupational therapists, and speech therapists. You should, however, keep in mind that the vast majority of these services are provided by native French speakers; hence, it is highly recommended that you brush up on your French language abilities in advance.

Recent announcements made by President Macron concern alterations to the nation's mental health care system that are scheduled to take effect in 2022. For instance, the state will provide partial reimbursement for psychiatric consultations; but, to get this benefit, you will be required to provide a letter of reference from your primary care physician.


In France, gaining access to mental healthcare that is either partly or completely covered may be a challenging process. Be forewarned that waiting lists may be longer due to the unfortunate nature of rising requests, which, when combined with a shortage of personnel (almost one-third of posts in public mental health facilities are vacant), may result in a lack of availability of services.


How to access mental health services in France


For the majority of therapies offered at a CMP, you will need a recommendation from your primary care physician. You will be paid at the same rate as for services provided by a general practitioner (GP) if you visit a psychiatrist or psychologist outside of a CMP. If this is the case and the therapy is supplied by the state, you will need to discuss this matter in further detail with your primary care physician. If you do not have private health insurance, you will not be eligible for reimbursement of the costs associated with private services and treatments.

If you want assistance right away, the mairie (town hall) in your area should also contain information about local mental health services. You should go to the hospital as soon as possible if you are experiencing a mental health emergency.


Insurance for mental healthcare in France


Everyone who is considered to be a legal resident of France and who satisfies the qualifications may get benefits from France's healthcare system and health insurance programme. Everyone who has already lived in France for three months and plans to stay there for another three must comply with this regulation. The person as well as the state contributes money toward the expense of medical treatment.

People who suffer from chronic conditions may benefit from purchasing private health insurance. The state will not pay for services provided by chiropractors, osteopathic physicians, or psychologists. When it comes to some kinds of prescription medicine, private insurance might be helpful as well. The state will only pay for a certain proportion of what they deem to be "essential" medications. Because of the high cost of prescription medicine, purchasing private health insurance is often encouraged. The following are examples of French companies that provide private health insurance:



Allianz


April International


Cigna Global


Globality


If you are a citizen of the European Union or the European Economic Area, you are required to get a free European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) before entering France. If you already possess an EHIC, it will continue to be valid so long as the expiration date has not passed. You are eligible for medical care supplied by the state if you have a GHIC or EHIC. Visiting a psychologist or psychiatrist, as recommended by your primary care physician, is one component of these therapies.


Psychologists, psychiatrists and therapists in France


It is possible to obtain partial or full payment for psychiatric therapy in France if you have a carte vitale, which is the card that proves your insurance is in good standing and is required to receive reimbursement. When making an appointment online, make it a point to verify that the attending physician belongs to the conventionné secteur 1 category. This will ensure that you are eligible for the maximum amount of compensation.

The Doctolib website offers the quickest and most convenient method for scheduling an appointment with a psychiatrist. It is possible to narrow your search to only get results from doctors who speak English. We would always recommend going to see your primary care physician first for guidance and maybe even a referral. However, if you are willing to pay, you may avoid going through this procedure altogether, which will cut down on the amount of time you have to wait.

In France, psychologists are not regarded to be medical physicians. Also, keep in mind that they are unable to provide medication to patients. As a result, appointments with this sort of practitioner are seldom paid for by insurance companies. In 2022, the government may announce new policies to address mental health, which might result in a shift in this situation. As a result of these changes, psychological consultations will no longer cost anything. However, at this time it is impossible to get assistance without cost. If you can get an appointment at a CMP, you may have the opportunity to receive both psychological and psychiatric care. Although these treatments are free, a reference letter from a primary care physician is often required to access them.


One other choice is to seek counselling. Listening therapy is a sort of talk therapy that may be provided by counsellors. The Counselling in France website was created by Anne Poulton, a retired professional counsellor who had worked for an NHS Community Mental Health Team in the neighbouring country of the United Kingdom. It is a database of English-speaking counsellors located around the nation who may be able to assist you with your situation.


Drug and alcohol services in France


In 2019, President Emmanuel Macron acknowledged that the government was falling behind in its battle against the spread of illegal narcotics. More specifically, in areas such as Marseille's infamous 14th District and the "banlieues" of Paris. A growing percentage of individuals in France are trying out illegal substances for the first time.


In France, in addition to the normal healthcare system, there is also a specialist system for the treatment of addiction. Most of the 100 sub-regional administrative districts in France have at least one Centres de Soin, d'Accompagnement et de Prévention en Addictologie (CSAPA). These clinics provide pharmacologically aided treatments in addition to psychosocial therapies for their patients. To have access to one, you will need a reference from your primary care physician.


Services dealing with eating disorders in France


For a very long time, France has had a reputation for casting models that are very underweight to walk its catwalks. When it comes to what is deemed healthy in terms of how one should appear and the dietary habits that inform that, the nation as a whole has undoubtedly had an unpleasant connection with these concepts.


We may count ourselves fortunate that public opinions about the matter are shifting, which has led to action being taken by the government. To be more specific, the passage of new law in 2017 prohibits the use of "unhealthy" models. It is possible that this is not a big deal in the grand scheme of things, but when you consider how much the history of fashion and modelling reflects French culture, you can understand why the action that the government made was generally seen as a good one.


Is the ever-evolving culture a reflection of the services that are now offered? No, if French is not your native language. If this is the case, you will need to interact with the private sector and make contact with a clinic similar to the one that is located in Paris.


There are specialised facilities, caregivers, and medical professionals available to you via the public sector. You may make use of these resources. Again, similar to the majority of specialised services offered in France, you are required to go via a middleman in the form of your general practitioner. It is common to practise for a psychologist or psychiatrist to recommend you to a specialist for therapy.


Healthcare for people with severe mental health problems in France

Going to a Centre Médico-Psychologique (CMP) affiliated with a hospital, either on your own or at the recommendation of your primary care physician, is the most effective course of action for those who are dealing with an ongoing or serious mental health condition.


They are provided at no cost to those who are residents of a certain geographical region. Unfortunately, there may be a wait of many months to get on the list. If they determine that the issue is serious enough or an emergency, then they will see you more quickly.


Mental healthcare for children and young people in France


Children in France have access to a quality healthcare system. If a kid or young person is having concerns with their mental health, the first place they should go should be to their school nurse. They can recommend pupils to the closest medical and psychological centre, much like a general practitioner (CMP). They may get specialised therapy here that is paid for by the government and is provided by a child psychiatrist who specialises in treating children known as a pédopsychiatre.


There are also medico-psycho-pedagogical centres, commonly known as CMPPs, which are administered by organisations and provide free medical and psychological assistance to children who are having problems. This mostly refers to conditions that interfere with their academic performance, such as developmental disorders or dyslexia. Take into consideration that getting an appointment can take many months.


The educator or primary care physician who treats your kid should be able to provide you with information about local children's services. You might also try talking to other parents that you know or searching internet forums for information about local services.


Mental healthcare for special groups in France


At the beginning of 2021, the government of France announced new assistance to safeguard the rights of individuals with intellectual impairments to get assistance and services.

The programme known as the Handicap Compensation Benefit (Prestation de Compensation du Handicap, or PCH) will be expanded by the government. People who are experiencing psychological or mental health issues will now be able to access the PCH. Those with a cognitive disability or a neurodevelopmental condition are also considered to be within the purview of the PCH.


Search our directory for mental health services in France


People who are currently living with severe mental illnesses can receive services from the health and social care sector – The Caisse Nationale de Solidarité pour l'Autonomie, handicap.fr, and L'Arche are all excellent resources in this regard. Until these changes are fully implemented, these services will be available. Patients suffering from mental illness may get a diverse variety of assistance from several different organisations that serve people with disabilities. Housing, medical care and treatment, sheltered workshops, professional training, schools for children, professional education, and schools for adults are some examples of these services. You may get access to these treatments either via your primary care physician or by going to a CMP.


Emergency support and crisis lines


Those who are residing in France and struggling with issues related to their mental health have access to a variety of support options. Be mindful, however, that the language of communication for the majority of these services will be French only. Having said that, there are some choices available for those who speak English. If you need services in other languages, be sure to go online and talk to other foreign residents in the area to get additional information.


● You can get guidance from the British Consulate about the many available treatment options, but they cannot provide professional advice on specific cases of mental illness — 01 44 51 31 00

● SOS Helpline is a telephone listening service that is available in English; the number to call is 01 46 21 46 46.

● The UK-based Samaritans (accessible from France) – 0044 8457 909090

● You may file a report online if you are suffering any kind of domestic abuse here.

● Alcohol hotline: Écoute Alcool, confidential advice, and help in French. Open everyday 14:00-02:00 = Tel: 0811 91 30 30

● Cannabis hotline: Écoute Cannabis, confidential advice and help in French Tel: 0811 91 20 20

● Drug abuse helpline: Drogues Info Service, confidential advice and help in French. Hours of operation: 8:00 am to 2:00 pm everyday Telephone: 0800 23 13 13 Telephone: 01 70 23 13 13


Useful resources


● French Ministry of Social Affairs and Health ((Ministere des Solidarites et de la Sante);

● Access to online medical consultations is available in France via Zava.

● Complementary Solidarity Health Fund (complementaire sante solidaire) - information on how persons with a low income may have access to healthcare;

● A website containing healthcare information and recommendations, known as Ameli. Calling 3646 from inside France or +33 811 70 36 46 from outside the country will put you in touch with an advisor who speaks English and can provide information on healthcare insurance in France.

● Cleiss, which stands for Centre des Liaisons Européennes et Internationales de Sécurité Sociale, is an organisation that offers information on the social security system and healthcare in France;

● Find a health centre near you by using the resources provided by the National Federation of Health Centers (Federation Nationale des Centres de Sante);


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