1 December 2023

A teenager takes a course at the Anxious School Refusal unit of the Montpellier University Hospital Center, January 31, 2023.

“We tinker”, “we wade”, “we hack”. What to do when a child or teenager can no longer go to school because the anxiety is too strong, when the parents call to say that they have not managed to get him out of his room or that they are arrived in front of the college or high school but had to turn around, their offspring being unable to cross the gates? Education professionals ask themselves the question regularly, with dismay.

If no statistics are produced by the national education, all note an increase for a few years of the anxious school refusal, formerly called “school phobia”, in their pupils of all ages, all social backgrounds and school levels. “At least one or two per class”, say headteachers.

For nurses, CPEs, psychologists, teachers…, the Covid-19 pandemic is not for nothing and these phobias represent a facet of the current malaise of young people, documented by studies by the French public health agency: one in five today suffers from depressive disorders. “Some students liked to stay at home. They locked themselves in their heads and in their homes and never really deconfined.analyzes Carole Zerbib, deputy principal of the Lycée Voltaire, in Paris, and member of the SNPDEN-UNSA union like the other heads of establishment interviewed. “During adolescence, confrontation with others and self-affirmation take place. However, this generation has lived far from the others and it is difficult for some to return to this collective that is the school.abounds Dominique Faure, principal of a high school near Nantes.

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The diagnosis is not always easy to make as the causes are multiple. Harassment or performance anxiety can destroy the taste for school, even in primary school. The teams nevertheless strive to identify the first symptoms as early as possible to avoid the spiral that leads to dropping out of school.

Anxiety first materializes through stomach aches, anxiety attacks, beaded absences. “Either it passes or it breaksremarks Sandie Cariat, school nurse in the Montpellier academy and member of SNICS-FSU. Either the student manages, with help, to manage his anxiety attacks, or he will be absent for a day, then two, then three until he can no longer return. » Any lack of attendance must be reported to the rectorate or even to the prosecutor for those under 16 years of age.

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