Often very young, with almost total loss of social life, the students face the current pandemic with great difficulty. Isolated and in need of support, they suffer from disturbances in their mental well-being, and risk at least dropping out. Examples and attempted solutions, in Lyon.

On the night of Friday 8 to Saturday 9 January, a student at the law school of the University of Lyon 3 attempted suicide by throwing himself out of the window of his university residence. The causes of his gesture are still unknown, and the reactions of the other students are cautious.

This is the case of Gaelis, the Group of Associations and elected Students of Lyon, Independent and Solidarity, which is part of the FAGE (Federation of General Student Associations). ” We want to keep a certain vigilance so that syllogisms are not made too hastily. In addition, out of respect for this student and his family, it seemed essential to us to keep measured words.“says their press release. Difficult, however, not to point the finger at the risks posed by the restrictions linked to the pandemic on the balance and mental health of these young people, often isolated.

A context too heavy to bear alone

In Villeurbanne, Romain Narbonnet works alone in his university residence, in a ten square meter room that he never leaves, and from where he follows distance learning. Isolation weighs on him. On the wall, he posted the photos of the faces of his relatives and friends, from the first confinement. The young law student confides that he called the psychological help services available to him. But he is disappointed: “Already, we will not speak with a psychologist on the first appointment. And this first meeting, it will be after one … even two months. So when you need it, locked up, rehashing, really … and being told to come in two months, it’s just not possible. ”he comments.

Isolated in his university residence, Romain tried to contact psychological help, but could not find his account

Isolated in his university residence, Romain tried to contact psychological help, but could not find his account

© Valérie Benais

The Lyon Regional Center for University Social Works recalls that it has set up a psychological support network for 10 years. This has resulted, since the spring, in 700 hours of listening hours. “We host 9,500 students. For example, over the 2019-2020 academic year, we had 150 requests. Is it a lot, or is it a little? It’s hard to say. Do all the students who have a need come to us? In any case, we are in a position to respond to requests from students“recalls Christian Chazal, CEO of CROUS Lyon.

“We are in a position to respond to requests from students” assures Christian Chazal, general manager of CROUS in Lyon

© Valérie Benais

Several alerts already issued

University restaurant or library closed … So many meeting places that these young people lack. An isolation that can cause real psychological distress. This is in any case what a study, conducted by the health service of the University of Lyon 1, highlighted last November. “Celebrating the baccalaureate, celebrating his 18th birthday, celebrating all these community rituals … It is, for the students, essential to their structure and their well-being. There, they are deprived of it, and for some it is the double penalty“explains Dr Caroline Combes, chief medical officer of the Lyon 1 university health service.

“For some, it’s a double penalty” estimates Dr. Caroline Combes, chief physician of the Lyon 1 university health service.

© Valérie Benais

Last November, already, Professor Nicolas Franck, psychiatrist and head of department at Vinatier in Lyon, warned of the serious consequences of confinements and other restrictions on freedom, in particular on students: “In our survey carried out in the spring, we rather focused on manifestations of discomfort. This is the first step. This is followed by more specific manifestations: being irritable, being tense, having trouble sleeping, having the impression of having an obstacle in front of you, mental ruminations etc. Over time, either a depressive disorder or anxiety develops. It’s very gradual. There are stages. And it differs depending on the individualHe explained then.

For its part, the Gaelis student group prioritizes information and prevention for students so that they feel supported and can be referred to listening devices. “This was done via a publication on our social networks, listing the various support systems (financial, psychological) from which students can benefit“, he reminds us.

Good evening to all,

Following the tragedy that occurred yesterday, it seems important to remind you that we are …

Published by GAELIS: associations and elected students of Lyon sure Sunday January 10, 2021

The student group calls on the state and calls for concrete changes: “In our opinion, the time is no longer for awareness but for action, the construction and development of viable and lasting solutions. To do this, the government must make these issues a priority.

Lyon 3 year of solidarity, to avoid dropping out

In the second semester of next year, the most vulnerable students could find the lecture halls in small groups. The others would continue distance education. In the meantime, at the University of Lyon 3, a device, planned for a long time, was put in place this Monday, January 11, to fight against the dropping out of some of these young people. Entitled “Lyon 3 solidarity year“, this operation has several objectives, among which, first of all … to create a group dynamic, using a theatrical experience.”The year of solidarity will make it possible to try to reduce a certain number of fractures and eliminate a certain number of material or psychological difficulties, which our students may encounter, with the health context that we know. “summarizes Michel Wissler, teacher and director” Information and Guidance “at the University Jean-Moulin – Lyon 3

For these students, renewing social ties is a priority. All want to find here the desire to resume their studies. “I followed the lessons less and less. I almost picked up. Fortunately there was that, otherwise I would have quit school“admits Ahmed Fawzi, a 1st year law student at the University Jean Moulin – Lyon 3.

“I almost dropped out” admits Ahmed Fawzi, a 1st year law student

© Marie Redortier

Confinement, the difficulty of studying alone in front of your screen. Trials for which these young people, just out of adolescence, were not prepared. “Yes, loneliness weighed heavily too. Loneliness + uncertainty + doubt … that’s a lot for someone who is just 18 years old“says llona Rigaud, 1st year Law & Philosophy student at Jean Moulin University – Lyon 3.

“Loneliness + uncertainty + doubt … it’s been a lot for someone who is just 18 years old” says llona Rigaud, 1st year student in Law & Philosophy

© Marie Redortier

For 12 weeks, this small group of students will therefore have the privilege of returning to college, to consider a new orientation.