Key priorities for Mental Health policies beyond 2020

Being a voice, sharing knowledge and reaching the whole of society are key priorities for EPA in the coming decade, as the future direction for Mental Health policies in the post‑COVID-19 era was discussed at EPA2020.

Ensuring all voices are heard is important, and lessons learnt from low-middle-income countries, emphasize task‑sharing and low-cost yet effective interventions.

Opportunities post-COVID-19

Promoting collaboration and prioritizing risk prevention will make best use of resources

COVID-19 has threatened service provision, but provides future opportunities, highlighting the importance of interconnection of health, environmental, social, economic and political dimensions of care, and revealing the strong adaptability and creativity that exists.

The current Mental Health environment is challenging, with huge needs and limited resources. Innovative solutions to broaden access to care can result in more efficient services at reduced cost such as eMental Health approaches. Promoting collaboration and prioritizing risk prevention will make best use of resources.

Future direction for Mental Health initiatives

Aim to achieve excellent standards of mental health care, training and research

EPA President, Philip Gorwood (Sainte-Anne Hospital, Paris, France), set out EPA’s ambition for Mental Health policies beyond 2020: 

To unite, share and enhance professional, scientific and policy building competencies aimed at achieving excellent standards of mental health care, training and research across Europe”.

Key priority directions are:

  • Voice – Being the common voice of psychiatry in Europe
  • Knowledge – Providing the platform for training and sharing knowledge
  • Sustainability – Increasing EPA’s societal outreach

EPA is already involved in many collaborative clinical/research projects including ‘Mapping Mental Health care in Europe’ and ‘Value of Treatment Project’.

Voice of families affected by mental illness

Families need more information, emotional and financial support, and respite care

Miia Männikkö (EUFAMI President) explained how EUFAMI1 seeks to be the voice in Europe for families affected by mental illness, with 39 member organizations in 24 countries. 88% of family members want more information, 83% emotional support, 78% respite care, and 62% financial support.

Future policy areas should include the following provision for these families:

  • Monitoring wellbeing and time spent caring
  • Education to increase understanding about mental illness
  • Emotional support
  • Respite care
  • Financial support

Lessons from interventions in low-middle-income countries

More expensive is not always better or more effective

Ricardo Araya (King’s College London, UK) provided the perspective gained from initiatives in low-middle-income countries. Services can be delivered without specialized human resources through task-sharing. In Zimbabwe, a primary care-based psychological intervention was carried out on ‘The Friendship Bench’, resulting in a significant reduction in depression (PHQ9) scores compared to controls2.

More expensive is not always better or more effective. An intervention to treat depression in primary care among low-income women in Chile using non-medical health workers showed 70% recovered by 6 months compared to 30% with usual care3.

Our correspondent’s highlights from the symposium are meant as a fair representation of the scientific content presented. The views and opinions expressed on this page do not necessarily reflect those of Lundbeck.

References
  1. http://eufami.org/
  2. Chibanda D, et al. JAMA 2016;316:2618-26.
  3. Araya R, et al. Lancet 2003;361:995-1000.
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