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European Parliament debate

On 21 September ESN launched its latest report Mental Health and Wellbeing in Europe: A person-centred community approach , originating from the work of the ESN working group on mental health. The launch, held at the European Parliament, brought together approximately 80 delegates from across Europe, including senior management, professionals, researchers and service users, in a joint effort to promote a person-centred community approach to mental health and wellbeing.

The event was hosted by Nessa Childers MEP who welcomed participants and congratulated ESN’s working group for its work in promoting the implementation of the European Pact for Mental Health and Well-Being.“Investment in mental health is a priority for all of us and investing in community-based services is key to reaching Europe 2020 targets,” Nessa Childers said.

Speakers opening the session explored the benefits of a person-centred approach to recovery and examined the role of health and social services in the field of mental health and wellbeing in: children and youth, people of working age and older people.

As the Head of Recovery DK in Aarhus Denmark, Marianne Cohen addressed the need for a holistic approach to recovery in health and social services as she outlined the four basic values essential for recovery. She reminded the audience that at the core of person-oriented recovery is social inclusion and access to employment, giving users a chance “to continue with their lives in a meaningful way, in line with their own values and wishes”.

Dr Dainius Puras, a former member of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, discussed the need for current and future child and adolescent mental health policies. He also argued that this issue has been a “neglected priority” in new(er) Member States and warned against simplified solutions, especially in cases related to adolescent violence and family policies.

Dr Paul Litchfield from the World Economic Forum’s Workplace Wellness Alliance talked about the importance of mental health in the working age population. He reminded public services that they “should be a beacon of excellence” and an example that encourages companies to generate solutions that will create a market for promoting workplace wellbeing.

Dr Anja Esther Baumann, Technical Officer at the WHO’s Europe office, focused on the empowerment of older people (an age group where mental health problems are more common) by involving them in decision-making processes about their own care and by creating opportunities for meaningful roles in society. She also highlighted the need to support informal caregivers as protecting their wellbeing has positive effects on services and those they are caring for.

During the Roundtable discussion chaired by John Bowis, the President of Health First Europe, high level panellists discussed actions that needed to be taken to make mental health a policy priority in the framework of the EU 2020 Strategy.