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Public Health

Health-EU newsletter 234 - Focus

Shopping around... for Mental Health best practices!

Irene Norstedt, Acting Director for Health research at the Commission’s Directorate General for Research and Innovation, and John F. Ryan, Director of Public Health at the Directorate General for Health and Food Safety, talk about the Third Marketplace of Best Practices in Ispra, Italy, which was organised by the Steering Group on Prevention and Promotion. This year’s best practices focused on mental health.

What is DG Sante’s and RTD’s involvement in Mental Health?

JFR: WHO estimates that 1 in 5 people have experienced some mental health issues. It should not be something that is considered unusual and taboo; mental health is a part of health, full stop. Recognising the importance of promoting good mental and physical health, the European Commission has been active in the field of mental health for many decades and has funded research projects and other initiatives like campaigns against cyber-bullying and raising awareness about depression and suicide.

IN: The Commission has been supporting mental health research through its Framework programmes. For instance, in H2020 in the last five years we have invested close to €3.2 billion on brain research, of which €615 million on mental health disorders. The latter focuses on better ways of promoting mental health as well as preventing, diagnosing and managing mental illness, including research on effective new e-tools and care models. But this is not enough. We know that mental illness remains a serious health problem in Europe and beyond and that many people don´t have access to the best possible care. That’s why we are teaming up with the Commission’s Directorate General for Health and Food Safety and will the Joint Research Centre. We believe our research can help improve this situation by providing evidence that can be shared with Member States.

Are you satisfied with this year’s Marketplace?

JFR: Yes, 11 participants are showcasing best practices that have been tried and tested and that could be easily duplicated and implemented elsewhere. This is our goal – to see concrete results that benefit EU citizens. Member State representatives attending are enthusiastic and happy to meet with project leaders face-to-face and learn about evidenced-based projects that get results and that they, too, could help implement in their own home countries, using EU financial and logistical support.

Can you talk about the Steering Group that organised the event?

JFR: The Steering Group on Prevention and Promotion was set up three years ago, replacing various expert groups and concentrating its efforts on something of utmost importance – promotion and prevention in areas defined as priority by member states. Nearly 80% of non-communicable diseases could be prevented, mainly by lifestyle choices. So we have to start there – by working to prevent illness and promote good health. OECD and WHO have demonstrated that investments in prevention and health promotion are very cost efficient, and avoid later paying through health care for diseases and conditions that could have been delayed or avoided through prevention.

IN: Participating in the Marketplace has given us a network and a better view of what is needed on ground level. Researchers are often given freedom to develop and discover in an organic way. But orienting research towards a specific challenge is exciting and motivating. Who wouldn’t want to find the cure to dementia? To prevent suicide? Seeing ideas that have come to fruition being presented at the Marketplace was extremely rewarding. What started out on the drawing board, as someone’s good idea, has actually been put into practice and proven successful, with the end result that people who need solutions are being helped. That’s the meaning behind all of our work. There is creative energy in research, hope in sharing ideas and real satisfaction in seeing tangible results.

Activities at EU level

Mental Health / Non-communicable diseases

European Commission – Health and Food Safety

EU Compass for Action on Mental Health and Well Being

European Commission – Health and Food Safety

Steering Group on Health Promotion, Disease Prevention and Management of Non-Communicable Diseases

European Commission – Health and Food Safety


Marketplace for Best Practices in Mental Health takes place in Ispra, Italy 14 – 15 May 2019

The Marketplace organised by the European Commission’s Steering Group for Health Prevention and Promotion showcases tried and tested practices in various health fields that can be rolled out on a larger scale in interested member states. See more about the Steering Group’s work here.

EU Compass for Action on Mental Health and Well-Being publishes Good Practices in Mental Health and Well-being brochure

This brochure contains information about European good practices in mental health and well-being which has been evaluated by experts, including a brief summary of each practices, the lessons learned and recommendations for future implementation in different settings.

Deliverables available from the 2-year pilot project MentALLY that analyse mental health care issues in 12 countries

The project co-funded by the European Parliament assesses the current state of mental health care and proposes ways for improvement.

Read all the presentations from the meeting of the Steering Group on Health Promotion, Disease Prevention and Management of Non-Communicable Diseases

Presentations include one on best practices in a digitally-enable integrated care and progress made toward the Sustainability Goals. The 14 February 2019 meeting in Brussels marked the second time the Steering Group met formally.

Health Commissioner Vytenis Andriukaitis lends his support to ‘Darkness into Light’ initiative supporting those touched by depression or suicide

Commissioner Andriukaitis became the patron for the 2019 Luxemburg edition of this event, which sees thousands of people across the world take part in a 5 a.m. walk on 11 May, going from darkness into the light of dawn, symbolising finding hope and bringing mental health issues to light.

Mental health problems costing Europe heavily

Greater efforts to promote mental health and improve early diagnosis and treatment of those with mental illness would improve the lives of millions of Europeans and contribute to stronger economic and employment conditions, says a joint OECD/European Commission report.

WHO Europe publishes policy paper on integrating mental health conditions within health systems

A short policy paper prepared for the WHO European High-level Conference on non-communicable diseases outlines pathways to more integrated planning and comprehensive actions for mental health and non-communicable diseases.

Health Programme Projects

Mig-HealthCare - Strengthen Community Based Care to minimize health inequalities and improve the integration of vulnerable migrants and refugees into local communities

Mig-HealthCare will produce a roadmap to effective community based care models to improve physical and mental health care services, support the inclusion and participation of migrants and refugees in European communities and reduce health inequalities.

PATHWAYS - Participation To Healthy Workplaces And inclusive Strategies in the Work Sector

PATHWAYS proposed policy recommendations to provide guidelines for policy makers and stakeholders to address work-related problems experienced by individuals with chronic diseases and mental health issue, and the negative consequences at individual, national and EU level.

Other interesting links

WHO Europe - Mental Health

Mental Health Europe

Mental Health Europe is the largest independent network organisation representing mental health users, professionals and service providers across Europe