Filled with young people in psychological distress, aged 12 to 15, the general pediatrics department at Antoine-Béclère hospital in Clamart, Hauts-de-Seine, is facing the challenge of caring for these adolescents who often end up there due to a lack of space in psychiatric facilities. The healthcare providers at the hospital are questioning their role and practices in dealing with this vulnerable population.

The fourth floor of this large hospital is now home to seventeen general pediatrics beds, half of which are constantly occupied by young people in mental distress. Another twenty beds in the service accommodate younger children. Catherine, a nurse at Antoine-Béclère hospital, mentions that it has been twenty years since she started working there, and while she cannot pinpoint the exact start of this increase in adolescent patients, she notes that it began even before the Covid-19 pandemic. This rise in adolescent admissions is a phenomenon that many pediatric services are facing due to the shortage of beds in child psychiatry.

The challenges faced by the healthcare team are substantial. They are not accustomed to dealing with such high numbers of adolescents in mental distress. The daily routine requires extreme vigilance as these situations are constantly at risk. The team must be prepared for crisis moments, which are becoming more frequent each year. Instances where multiple healthcare providers are needed to restrain a young girl or where a girl attempts self-harm by strangulation are becoming more common. The staff finds themselves in situations they never imagined they would face when they chose to work in pediatrics.

The emotional toll on the healthcare providers is significant. They are struggling to adapt to this new reality and are constantly questioning their approach and techniques. The need for physical restraints and the potential danger posed by these adolescents to themselves and others are shocking and distressing for the staff. The team is constantly on high alert, trying to prevent any potential harm to the patients.

As the number of adolescents in mental distress continues to rise, the healthcare providers at Antoine-Béclère hospital are faced with the challenge of providing adequate care and support to these vulnerable individuals. The emotional and psychological impact of working with these adolescents is taking a toll on the staff, who are struggling to cope with the increasing demands of their job. The need for more resources and support for both the patients and the healthcare providers is evident as they navigate this complex and challenging situation.