Over the past three years, the COVID-19 pandemic has put mental health in the public eye, with millions of people suffering from major depression and anxiety disorders. With the pandemic now under control in the WHO Europe Region, WHO/Europe calls on governments to keep mental health a top priority on the health and political agenda during the recovery phase.
A conference organized by WHO/Europe and the Danish Health Authority will convene in Copenhagen on 19 September to bring together advocates and experts from the Nordic and Baltic regions to share ideas on how to maintain and improve mental health services for about 35 million people. shared the experience with I live in this sub-region. This was the first meeting of representatives of such countries.
“Not only is COVID-19 increasing mental distress and substance use, it is also causing an additional 53 million major depressive disorders and an additional 76 million anxiety disorders globally, contributing to our collective well-being. It has had a profound impact.” Dr. Hans-Henri P. Kluge, WHO Regional Director for Europe
“These and other impacts have also revealed that mental health systems were stretched to their limits and underserved, funded and staffed even before the pandemic.”
Even before the pandemic, WHO/Europe put mental health at the center of its agenda by making it one of the four main areas of its European Work Program (EPW), Collective Action for Better Health. I was standing.
Speaking at the conference, Dr Søren Brostrøm, Executive Director of the Danish Health Authority, applauded this vision and commitment, highlighting the importance of EPW’s flagship and the European Framework for Action on Mental Health to be adopted by the member states of the region in 2021. emphasized.
“Having a subregional meeting like today’s is a sure way to move this agenda forward in our region,” said Dr. Brostrøm. “[Mental health] Indeed, it has been a very high priority in Denmark for many years. We’ve had a lot of success, but we’ve also had a lot of challenges in public health, and the biggest challenge has been with mental health. ”
Share mental health best practices
During the day-long conference, participants were able to present initiatives being taken in their respective countries to strengthen mental health services.
For example, Denmark outlined a 10-year mental health action plan to be launched in January 2022. If approved by the Danish parliament, the plan will be one of the most ambitious of its kind, promoting mental health services throughout the healthcare system. From hospitals and primary care to integrated mental health services in schools and professional settings.
Others discussed the importance of leveraging digital tools in delivering mental health services, including online treatment, prevention, and mental health promotion.
The cooperation between the Nordic and Baltic regions is an important example for the rest of the WHO European Region, which wants to transform mental health systems and provide better care for people with mental health problems.
This is also the spirit of the Pan-European Mental Health Coalition launched by WHO/Europe almost a year ago. The coalition aims to bring together governments and organizations to exchange ideas on how to advance the mental health agenda in European and Central Asian societies. .
The Coalition held its first meeting in May 2022, where experts began discussing key areas of work, from transforming mental health services to strengthening leadership. The Coalition plans to hold a second meeting in Ankara, Turkey in November 2022 to advance this agenda.