ESN Policy and Practice 2010

As part of ESN Policy & Practice Programme 2010, ESN is delighted to have launched the Mental Health Working Group composed of directors of local health and social services, local policy makers, and researchers from 8 different European countries (Bulgaria, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Spain, and the UK).

The aim of the Group is to share good practice at the local level and then feed into the activities that the European Commission is organizing in the framework of the European Pact for Mental Health and Wellbeing. One such activity is the participation of the Group members in the Lisbon Conference against stigma and social exclusion that will take place in November 2010 and the Berlin Conference on the promotion of mental health in the workplace setting in March 2011. The group is working closely with DG Health and Consumer Affairs and the coordinator of the implementation of the Pact - Impact Consortium.

At their first meeting on 5-6 July in Brighton, the Group discussed how health and social services work together in the field of mental health. As the main purpose of the meeting was to exchange examples of good practices in order to learn from each other and formulate common recommendations, presentations were structured around a similar example of how health and social services work together in the field of mental health, in order to promote mental health or to prevent mental disorders.

First and foremost, it is important to assess not only the health situation of the person but also their social conditions, to take into account the situation, family, health conditions, explained Lorenzo Rampazzo from Italy. He stressed the need for a combined psycho-social approach when addressing the needs of people with mental health problems.

The Group then discussed the need to find non-conventional ways to support people with mental health conditions and Lucy Butler from UK discussed the need for moving away from the medical approach to a more preventive care option with personalized plans, employment and housing support. In the case of older people in Finland, according to Eija Stengård it would mean staying longer in their homes and community. Marta Nieto from Spain underlined the importance of the role of the family in designing and implementing users’ personalized plans.

Anders Møller Jensen from Denmark advocated horizontal and vertical integration of strategy development and service delivery. Edna Rasch from Germany agreed and highlighted the need to strengthen the role of local authorities in the provision of services and improve cooperation with the national and regional government.

Finally, the group agreed eight priority areas that would shape its work over the coming year and its contribution to the European Pact on Mental Health.