Preventive medicine and the students’ health relay centres, coping with successive lockdowns

One of the issues with the successive lockdowns decided over the last few months is how to maintaining good physical and, above all, psychological fitness. From the temporary lowering of vitality and physical condition to the occasional minor bout of depression, these periods of forced isolation are having an impact on the psychological health of the students.

Preventive medicine and the students’ health relay centres, coping with successive lockdowns

"With my friends, we have all experienced a spot of uselessness at one time or another," explains a fourth-year student at the school. “But with time you get used to it and it goes away." The fact remains that the University of Technology of Compiègne has tackled the problem head on and moved out the heavy artillery to deal with the students' discomfort and misgivings.

Starting with the Preventive Medicine Bureau. Dr Alice Hoogendoorn, UTC’s house physician, and nurse Dominique Albanese look after the students who stay in Compiègne. "The students can contact us by e-mail”, says the doctor. “We take care of them or we redirect them to such contacts dedicated specifically to their difficulties.”

The first lockdown provided an opportunity to observe some recurrent problems among young students. “We were able to observe things like burnouts for certain young people," continues the doctor. So we set up on-line “teleconsultations” with our psychologist to accompany the students experiencing the most difficulties. "In parallel with this medical support, audio sophrology sessions have been implemented by the administration. With the aim of enabling students to refocus and relax. What I am hearing is the combination of studying, excessive work, stress," explains Christella Lequeux, sophrologist at the UTC. “But you have to manage to develop good moments and see the better side of things.”

In order to support the house physician, nurse and sophrologist, UTC has drawn its secret weapon; the student health relay centre. For the past two years, the region has been accompanying, training and employing students to create a link between preventive medicine and students. “We are intermediaries between the medical profession and the student body," explains Manon, a student at the health relay centre. “Our role is to make it easier for students to speak up and contact with the medical services and to discuss subjects that are sometimes taboo with them.”

Whether it was through listening to students suffering from temporary depression, or helping some of them to find the right people to assist in overcoming financial difficulties, the health relay students had their work cut out for them during these lockdowns. "For this second lockdown, we have set up a group for confined, isolated students where we offer live sessions on Facebook with sports, cooking recipes, where we open the floor for everyone to express their difficulties.” It's a great way to brighten up the lives of confined students and recreate links... while complying with the social distancing rules.