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Be positive in the face of mental illnesses to better treat them.

Preventive psychiatry - definition

In the support of patients with psychiatric disorders or pathologies, prevention is a major issue. The earliness of the diagnosis, and the anticipation of the problems encountered by the patient are generally a guarantee of greater effectiveness of treatments and support.
Preventive psychiatry is based on a multidimensional approach. Psychiatric disorders and conditions generally have multiple causes. Prevention therefore requires recognizing the importance of the social and cultural dimension of the patient. This takes concrete form by taking into account the patient and his disorders, but also his family and social context (family, friends, colleagues, neighborhood) as well as his cultural influences (religion, values, etc.).
The approach of preventive psychiatry has evolved in recent years. In the past, priority was given to the identification of populations at risk. Today, preventive psychiatry focuses more on the individual demand of the patient and its environment (at the origin of multiple risk factors), with the goal to establish an early diagnosis and personalized preventive support.

Principles and objectives of preventive psychiatry

Prevention in psychiatry can be of 3 types:

  • primary prevention, upstream of the disorder: still little carried out in France, it includes actions to fight maladjustment in an educational environment, promoting mental hygiene, information (including “media”) and supporting work on environments where potential patients live (family, school, professional);


  • secondary prevention: this is based on early detection of mental disorders and pathologies, especially in children and adolescents (population at risk). This type of prevention is particularly carried out by private establishments but also by social workers;


  • tertiary, therapeutic prevention: it aims to prevent relapse of the patient. It is a question of ensuring continuity of care for long-term patients.

Preventive psychiatry is still insufficient today, in particular due to a still too limited knowledge of the etiologies of mental illnesses, but also because of the negative (shameful) image of psychiatry and a lack of means.

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