Leading academics meet to align action on mental health in WHO European Region


Leading academics from WHO collaborating centers in the WHO European Region met in Copenhagen on 23 August to advance joint action on mental health within the Pan-European Mental Health Coalition.

In their first face-to-face meeting at the WHO Regional Office for Europe since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, 16 academics from 10 countries discussed the roles and capacities of their institutions in addressing the many challenges facing mental health systems in the Region caused by the COVID-19 pandemic brought to light. These include the tremendous burden of mental health disorders such as depression and anxiety, which affect more than 1 in 6 people in the Region, and underinvestment in interventions to treat and prevent these disorders or their associated effects, such as suicide.

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The future of the Pan-European Mental Health Coalition was the focus of this meeting, particularly in terms of how the collaborating centers can best contribute. WHO collaborating centers conduct research, contribute to WHO’s technical products and communicate with WHO about the latest developments in their respective contexts, making them important sources of support for WHO’s country and international work in various health areas . They have also been important pillars of the coalition since its inception.

Participants at the Copenhagen meeting saw it as an opportunity to deepen shared responsibility for improving mental health systems, as well as clarifying how they can best contribute to that goal – a perennial theme for mental health professionals People’s mental health and well-being are not only shaped by the quality of healthcare, but also by other aspects such as: B. Social benefits, a supportive family life or an employer who is committed to a good work-life balance.

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A flagship initiative of the WHO Regional Office for Europe launched in September 2021, the Coalition aims to address mental health in all walks of life by harnessing the collective knowledge of leading experts and organizations in the Region. Its main purpose is to meet the objectives of the European Mental Health Framework for Action 2021-2025, the roadmap for reforming mental health systems endorsed by all Member States last year, which aims to transform mental health services and support mental health Health in emergencies includes , and protecting mental health throughout the life course.

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Representatives from the collaborating centers were excited at the prospect of moving forward with the coalition. Many are already providing their expertise, for example by mapping mental health policies, regulations and tools used across the Region.

“We really appreciate the collaboration,” said Natasha Azzopardi-Muscat, director of the Division for Country Health Policies and Systems at the WHO Regional Office for Europe. β€œScience is at the heart of WHO’s work at all levels, and collaborating centers help ensure the quality and credibility of the evidence used for policy making and service delivery. So we look forward to making the best of it.”



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