On the 10th of October 2023, the European Commission held their event ‘An EU comprehensive approach that prioritises sound mental health for all’. GAMIAN-Europe was in attendance and also had the honour of having artwork from their ‘The Vibrant Mind: Exploring Mental Health through Artistry on display. The European Commission also invited the young artists to the conference where they explained to those in the exhibition room what their art meant to them and why they had created it.
Overall the event was successful with lots of passionate advocates for mental health speaking about why the time is now for action. Below you can find a summary of the key speakers points:
European Commissioner for Health and Food Safety Stella Kyriakides led a significant mental health conference in the Belgian capital on World Mental Health Day, 10 October. The event convened representatives from EU policymakers, national governments, European organizations, and patient advocates.
Highlighting recent European challenges such as the COVID-19 pandemic, Russia’s aggression against Ukraine, and climate change was Her Majesty the Queen of the Belgians. A staunch supporter of global mental health, she emphasized the importance of a pan-European response to mental health issues, especially in light of the crises mentioned above.
Kyriakides resonated with these sentiments, expressing her concern for those enduring mental health adversities due to conflicts, like that in Ukraine. She emphasized the need for a unified EU approach to mental health to shape a people-focused European Health Union.
Prominent figures voiced their insights and commitments. Marc Angel, Vice-President of the European Parliament, underscored the synergy between mental health initiatives and social and equality policies. Meanwhile, Dr. Hans Kluge of WHO revealed a concerning decline in the mental health workforce and highlighted the need for more budget allocation in this sector.
b spoke about the extended psychological ramifications of the war with Russia, mentioning that almost 40% of US and EU citizens have felt its impact. Looking forward to its EU Presidency in the latter half of 2023, Spain is set to prioritise mental health discussions, announced Spain’s Minister of Health, José Miñones.
Belgium’s own approach to reforming mental healthcare was shared by Frank Vanderbroucke, Minister of Social Affairs. Hungary’s Deputy State Secretary for Health, Judit Bidló, outlined their mental health strategy emphasizing community-based programs and literacy.
The conference also touched on global partnerships for children’s mental health, discussed by Bertrand Bainvel from UNICEF. Stories of personal journeys and the positive impact of organizations such as Special Olympics Malta, were shared, highlighting the importance of empathy, care, and human rights-based policies.
The event underscored the EU’s commitment to prioritizing mental health, understanding its complexities, and striving for a holistic, inclusive approach.