Luxembourg has the EU's highest rate of depressive symptoms, according to figures from 2019. What help is out there and how can you access it?
The coronavirus pandemic has also had an impact on mental health. According to data from the Centre for Information and Prevention (CIP), in 2020 the children and youth helpline registered twice as many calls relating to worries and anxiety than in 2019, while one in three residents reported a decline in their mental health during lockdown.
However, as Tom Weber compellingly argues, mental health in Luxembourg must be taken seriously and not merely as a side effect of the pandemic. So what support is out there for those struggling with their mental health, whether due to the pandemic or not?
How does one distinguish between feeling down or anxious and a mental health condition? There is no clear boundary, but health professionals start with a self-test such as this one to map out a patient's symptoms. Before you approach your doctor, therefore, it can be worthwhile taking a questionnaire to understand the nature of your symptoms.
Much of what a health practitioner will recommend for tackling mental health issues falls into the category of 'self-management'. This can include adopting habits such as regular exercise or dietary changes, as well as daily tracking of symptoms and following a treatment regime at home. Prévention Dépression have a handy guide with tips on self-managing your mental health.
If the self-test indicates possible depression, or you have other mental health concerns, you should arrange an appointment with your general practitioner. Details of how to register and get a referral to a specialist here.
If you're not looking for a diagnosis, but would like to talk something through, the Ministry of Health Covid-19 helpline offers psychological support and is available from 8am to 4pm, Monday to Friday, call 8002 8080 or +352 49 77 1 9200 from abroad.
If you feel you need to talk to someone due to experiencing an acute crisis, whether due to mental health or any other issue such as family or relational problems, loneliness, distress, or addiction, you can call SOS Détresse on 45 45 45. They offer support in English and a range of other languages, and are open from 11am to 11pm every day, extended to 3am on Fridays and Saturdays. You can also leave them a message online, and they'll get back to you within three working days.
You can also arrange a private consultation with a psychologist or psychotherapist - a directory of registered professionals is available here.
For children and young people, Kanner-Jugendtelefon (KJT) is a counselling service which offers free and confidential support. You can call and speak with them in English (and other languages) on 161 111 during their operating hours, which are: Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 5pm to 10pm; Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays from 2pm to 10pm. You can also leave a message for them online (response within three working days) or use their live chat service on Tuesdays between 3pm and 10pm.
It's also worth exploring support groups. Our article on support for addiction issues lists groups that help with drug, gambling, and alcohol addiction. There's also support groups for those suffering from anxiety, phobias and fears, as well as more specific circumstances such as parents who have lost a child. There's more detail here but it's worth noting that these groups don't appear to operate in English.
Getting help in an emergency and suicide prevention
If you or someone you know is at imminent risk of attempting suicide, you should call the emergency number 112 and ask for an ambulance, or 113 and ask for the police.
If you are having suicidal thoughts, the helplines listed above can offer anonymous support and guidance.
The organisation Prévention Suicide has information on their website in French and German, including a guide for those who are thinking about suicide and where to find help.
Mental health first aid
In June 2021 the Ministry of Health and Ligue d’Hygiène Mentale launched mental health first aid classes, with the aim of training 18,000 responders, or 3% of the population, by 2030. The classes teach how family, friends, or co-workers can provide initial support for mental health problems. They are available in French or Luxembourgish - sign up here.