Our History

GAMIAN-Europe was founded in Venice in March 1997 by 12 Advocacy Groups or Associations whose activity was and still is dedicated to helping and sustaining those affected by mental ill-health: Fondazione IDEA, Freedom from Fear, Equilibrium, Club D&A, France Depression, Depression Alliance, Hieronimus, OCD Foundation, National DMDA, Ananke, Obsessive Action, Manic Depressive Fellowship-Wales.

During this meeting a Steering Committee (Carla Stanek Zen, Mary Guardino (Chair), Paolo Lucio Morselli, J.P. Kummer, Rodney Elgie,) was appointed with the aims to define the by-laws and the statutes of the organisation. GAMIAN-Europe members met again in VIENNA, in September 97, where other Associations or Groups joined the organisation.

Following a meeting of the Steering committee in New York (USA) on January 1998 the organisation was registered by Mary Guardino in the State of New-York as GAMIAN Inc. in the same month.

On May 1998 the delegates of 5 European Advocacy Associations, Charter Members of GAMIAN-Europe: P.L. Morselli (Fondazione IDEA); Rodney Elgie (Depression Alliance); Dominique Attar-Levi, (France Depression); Carla Stanek Zen (Club D&A); P. Kummer (Equilibrium) who did not share the approach, the philosophy, the purposes and the programs and the management of GAMIAN Inc. withdrew from GAMIAN-Inc. and met in Paris where they founded GAMIAN-Europe.

In July 1998, GAMIAN-Europe was registered in Zug, Switzerland. MaryLou Selo (Equilibrium) was elected chair of the Steering Committee composed by Carla Stanek Zen, Rodney Elgie, J.P. Kummer and Paolo Lucio Morselli.

On October 1998 a first meeting of GAMIAN-Europe members took place in Paris, on the occasion of an ECNP meeting, where GAMIAN-Europe organised a Symposium entitled “What the patients think”. During this mini-convention other organisations joined GAMIAN-Europe.

In 2000, following the withdrawal of Equilibrium a process of registration was initiated in Belgium.

Also in 2002 the Statutes of GAMIAN-Europe were approved in Brussels, Belgium, by a Royal Decree of November 14, 2002. The Royal Decree, giving a legal personality to GAMIAN-Europe, was published in the Moniteur Belge on January 15, 2003. Between 2006 and 2009 the statutes were reviewed and adapted to the new Belgian legislation on International organisations. The actual statutes were published in the Moniteur Belge on 25 November 2010.

The most important change was the redefinition of membership criteria.  Full membership is the prerogative of those association that have patients in their governance bodies and assure patient participation in their activities.  Other associations and individual persons can become associate member.

From a network that was confined mainly to organisations operating within the field of mood disorders, we have now developed into a network that includes all aspects of mental ill-health.

This allows GAMIAN-Europe to present itself as a true pan-European Advocacy organisation operating across the whole spectrum of mental ill-heath.

In 2009 GAMIAN-Europe established the European Parliament Interest Group on Mental Health, Well-Being and Brain Disorders of the European Parliament and has coordinated the activities of this Group since then.

The organisation has also produced many responses and statements with respect to relevant EU developments impacting on mental health, to ensure that the voice of patients is included in the debates and discussions that concern them.

Since 2014 GAMIAN-Europe is actively involved in EU-funded research projects and organises meetings involving its members to provide feedback and input in these projects, with the aim to ensure relevance for those affected by mental ill-health.

GAMIAN-Europe has also carried out a number of surveys to gauge the views of patients on relevant topics (stigma, compliance, mental health and employment…) – reports have been published in prestigious International Journals and presented in the European Parliament at meetings of the Interest Group on Mental Health, Well Being and Brain Disorders.

Several of our Officers have been elected to the Boards of other prestigious European Organisations (European Patients Forum, European Brain Council, EFNA, etc.)

Today we unite more than 50 member organisations from the majority of EU member states, as well as Africa, North America and South America. We also have many Individual members.