Yann Massart lives in Le Mans (France). He has been a psychiatric emergency nurse for ten years and is also involved with “Santé Publique France” as a mission referent. In addition to his fatherhood duties, this new-technologies-enthusiast has co-funded and directed Dites Je suis Là for the past two years, a suicide prevention association for the general public.
What is the moment you realized you had mental health ?
At the beginning of my nursing studies, I was able to realize that certain difficulties can have an impact on your daily life, your social environment, the harmful substance use, etc. Then during my career midterm, I was confronted with burnout situations due to “complex” management. This is something that can actually happen frequently. With hindsight, we realize that since childhood we have already unconsciously faced this kind of difficulties : there will always be somewhat complex life steps where it is important, either to be able to pay attention to oneself, or to be able to rely on someone who can be there for us.
What do you want to improve in terms of the population's mental health ?
In the hospital I work in, about 50% of the patients that I meet in the psychiatric emergency department come for a suicidal crisis. Over time, I realized the difficulties in accessing care for these people. There is both a lack of resources and an opacity of information undermining the support of the general public. Moreover, it was noticed that new technologies were underused to solve these problems.
All this may be due to the fact that little financial means are invested in French mental health, particularly regarding prevention. For the record, the last French mental health awareness communication campaign dates from 2008 and focused on depression.
What is your proposed solution to solve this problem ?
We were in 2020 and something had to be done! I'm an expert of nothing, not the best nurse, not the best web developer; but with two psychiatrist and psychologist colleagues, we got started and published our first online page. We proposed a simple website which allowed everyone to learn how to react to a relative in a suicidal crisis, what to say, what to do, whatever their age or profession. “Dites Je Suis Là” delivers information without conflict of interest, always accompanied by the sources used.
We quickly had a few articles in the regional press, then it snowballed, in particular thanks to the financial support of the Ramsay Health Foundation and a lot of advertisements in major French media. In less than 2 years, we are already on our 3rd communication campaign aimed at at-risk audiences (young people, LGBTQI+, farmers, etc.) for about 1 million people affected. We really use a lot of different formats, physical and digital displays, goodies, social media campaigns, etc. In addition, we also work with a lot of ambassadors, who come to relay our actions in the regions with the necessary adjustments so that our messages reach as many people as possible.
What are your plans for the future ?
We still have a lot to do to develop our brand image, so that people can identify us and find us easily everywhere in France. We must continue our efforts to ensure that talking about suicide in society is not stigmatizing. In addition, we would also like to strengthen our impact measures in our campaigns, as well as our local presence in the territories.
Is there an artistic work, or someone inspiring that had a positive impact on your mental health ?
A multi-task French nurse who inspired me a lot, and helped me to continue to reach my goals : William Réjault. I let you see for yourself, he has his own wikipedia page !
What is the best way to contact you ?
You can contact me on Linkedin or directly via firstname.lastname@example.org
I am always open to criticism and innovation on the topics we have just discussed; and then “en parler peut tout changer” (talking about it can change everything : the "Dites Je Suis Là" association's slogan) 😉
If you are interested in the initiative, do not hesitate to take a look at www.ditesjesuisla.fr and support this dynamic team of which I am a part.
Interviewed by Thomas Cantaloup, on August 21, 2022
Photo credits : Olinfact