The 2012 Mental Health Europe Conference
, held June 14th-16th in Split, Croatia, was attended by almost 200 participants. The conference aimed to review the social determinants that reinforce inequalities. It also hoped to determine ways of improving the social environment in schools and workplaces, look at methods of encouraging inclusion within the community, and to consider how to develop strong and supportive networks capable of having a positive impact on mental health. Among the speakers of the day were:· Laszlo Andor, European Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion, who noted: "The great suffering of people with mental health problems translates both into higher unemployment, and into greater precariousness of jobs".
· Jane Gabriel, Editor of openDemocracy 50.50, who emphasised the need for community-based services for people with a mental health problem, promoting respect for the individual, and upholding human rights.
· Jan Pfeiffer, member of the Council of Europe Centre for the Prevention of Torture, who said: "European money cannot be used anymore to refurbish large residential institutions.” Instead, he said, governments should support representative organisations for people with mental health problems.
· Thor Rogan, Deputy Director of Norway's General Ministry of Health and Care Services, who said: "It is extremely important to recognise that user experience is as valuable as professional knowledge."
The conference was hosted by Croatian mental health group Sto Koluri
[Croatian Association for Psychosocial Wellbeing].
The political and financial austerity packages of Italy and Greece are, in part, responsible for a rise in suicides in the two countries, writes Dr David Stuckler, lecturer in sociology at the University of Cambridge, UK, in The Lancet
, March 17th 2012. Dr Stuckler comments that an increase in the rates of suicides is greatest in countries experiencing heightened levels of economic insecurity.
New support groups are appearing to help people who feel close to suicide (and their relatives, family and friends). One example is LIFE AUXILIUM
, a local Italian group founded by Stefano Zanatta of Confartigianato AsoloMontebelluna (an association for small businesses in northern Italy). LIFE AUXILIUM, which began operations in March 2012, has engaged the support of family therapists from the EIDOS Centre in Treviso
, to run focus groups which aim to determine how people react to personal finanical crises. The LIFE AUXILIUM team of therapists provides consultations in complete privacy to at-risk people. The group also operates a 'hot line' on Monday and Friday afternoons (local telephone number 800-130-131). Thus far, calls received have been from small and medium-sized business-people who are contemplating suicide as a way of getting themselves out of their dire financial situtation.
Chris Ames, Information Manager at the UK mental health charity Mind
, spoke to the BBC
about the results of a study on depression which show that brain-training techniques can help people control depression: "While these initial results are interesting, the research is clearly at an early stage. Further research should give a better idea of how beneficial this technique could be as a treatment for depression
." The study
was conducted by David Linden, Professor of Translational Neuroscience at Cardiff University, Wales. His research used neurofeedback as a procedure, with patients being shown how they can control their brain activity using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) technology. According to the BBC report, neurofeedback has been shown to be helpful for patients with Parkinson's disease.
During May 2012, the Slovensko združenje za duševno zdravje (SENT)
[Slovenian Association of Mental Health] and CAW Artevelde
from Belgium hosted training sessions for police staff, so that police can gain a better understanding of the mental health consequences of domestic violence. The training sessions were developed by Mental Health Europe (MHE)
as its contribution to the EU Daphne Project
, which was launched in 2004 to prevent and combat violence against children, young people, and women, and to protect victims and groups at risk of violence.
Föreningen Psykisk Hälsam
, the Swedish National Mental Health Association, is to launch a campaign to prevent suicide among young
(as reported by its affiliate organisation, Mental Health Europe). Suicide is not an uncommon cause of death in Sweden; every year, over 1,400 Swedes take their own lives. For Swedes aged 15-24, suicide is by far the most frequent cause of death (especially among young men). The Föreningen therefore plans to to tackle the stigma attached to suicide and other related mental health problems by mobilising a large number of stakeholders via the Autumn 2012 launch of a webservice and a campaign. The website will provide support to people who feel that they may have suicidal tendencies, and will help them to openly talk about their circumstances and feelings. The campaign will be supplemented with seminars, reports and a yearly conference on the subject of suicide. For more information, contact Secretary General Carl von Essen at: firstname.lastname@example.org
On World Health Day, April 7th 2012, Mental Health Europe (MHE)
called on the European Commission to include the subject of mental health in the Commission's 'Health for Growth Programme 2014-2020', which will have a budget of €446 million.
A new SANE Australia
study is investigating the challenges faced by people with a mental illness who are also the parents of school-age children.
Produced in consultation with Children of Parents with a Mental Illness
(COPMI), the online survey
looks at parents' concerns, and seeks ideas on how services can be improved. Results from the study will be published in a SANE Research Bulletin later in 2012, which SANE hopes will provide a platform for lobbying for improved understanding and support to families in which a parent is living with a mental illness.
A press release from Mental Health Europe (MHE)
focuses on the International Day for the Right to the Truth Concerning Gross Human Rights Violations and for the Dignity of Victims (March 24th 2012). The press release expresses the belief by MHE that Europe needs to move away from closed psychiatric institutions.
MHE is calling for European leaders to acknowledge that closed institutions cannot protect from exploitation and abuse the 300,000 Europeans still locked up in psychiatric wards. MHE would like European policy-makers to step up the process of deinstitutionalizing psychiatric wards, and to offer viable alternatives that allow people with mental health problems to get support in the community. A first proposal on regulating post-2013 Structural Funds emerged in October 2011 - regulation that will be responsible for setting the guidelines on how countries can use hundreds of billions of Euros in the next seven years. Therefore, MHE insists that, during the negotiation process between EU institutions, Member States, and civil society, policy-makers ensure that European money is granted to projects which aim to develop community-based services, rather than being siphoned off into the refurbishment of large residential psychiatric institutions. For more information, contact MHE Information and Communications Officer, Silvana Enculescu at:email@example.com