The Mental Health Working Group has formulated a response to the EU consultation “A comprehensive approach to mental health” as it was announced on the EU webpage on the 18th of January

Via the official EU platform it uploaded the text below on behalf of the EFPC:

The European Forum for Primary Care is pleased to read that the EU Commission takes mental health seriously and focuses on a comprehensive approach. We support and emphasise the problems described. EFPC offers some constructive feedback, mainly on the aims of this approach.

  1. Rather than focusing on early detection of mental health problems, there is a wider need for normalizing mental challenges and support for self-directing and self-managing recovery. Special attention for refugees and people with severe mental problems and little social support is more urgent. Focussing on early detection of mental disorders, keeping mental problems in a biomedical context, is in our view not a solution at all.  We anticipate this could lead to further medicalisation of mental health and expansion of the larger mental health organizations, with a compromising reduction in the knowledge and understanding of recovery interventions. What we see in daily practice is a diminished attention for those people with mental health problems without solid ground for their livelihood security. We need many more facilitators in the neighbourhood to support the recovery and self-direction of target groups (especially young people, the very old and the refugee and migrant population).

This brings us to the next comment.

  1. We understand the need for policy change accordingly for mental health. But what we see is that a lot of money goes to the big institutes. Small hometown organisations truly supporting people with serious mental health problems and their recovery pathway are barely able to acquire financial resources. We advocate for a fair distribution of the EU money, with a significant proportion for service user-led research and the funding and of peer-support groups inside the capillaries of society. This will generate the non-stigmatised support that is needed and create communities that are built on a sense of societal support, advocacy and reciprocity.

The last remark the EFPC wants to make is about stimulating the shift of the scientific paradigm on mental health issues. See our EFPC Position Paper Mental Health. If we focus too much on mental health problems, the social determinants of mental health stay invisible. If we continue to medicalize mental health problems, people remain dependent on professionals and the health care system. This is costly and undermines the self-direction of people with mental health problems. Mental health support then will be seen as “mopping the floor with the tap open”.

On behalf of the EFPC Working Group Mental Health,

Dineke Smit