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Improving patient empowerment and self-management of care in mental health

Blog

Wednesday 30 May 2018

As co-chair of the European Parliament Mental Health Interest Group, Nessa Childers MEP welcomes a Call to Action  for the Improvement of patient empowerment and self-management of care in mental health.

This Call to Action aims to highlight the urgent need to stimulate the empowerment of those affected by mental ill-health  and to recognise the vital role persons affected by mental ill-health can play in the management of their treatment and care, in partnership with health professionals and other care providers.

The burden of mental ill-health is huge across the EU

It is increasingly recognised that the burden and prevalence of mental health conditions is huge: at least 27 % of the European (EU, Switzerland, Iceland and Norway) adult population experience mental disorders every year[2]. The proportion of the national health budget devoted to mental health ranges between 4% to 13% across the EU. Mental health conditions account for 22% -25% of the EU burden of disability, with neurological and psychiatric disorders being among the third leading causes of disability-adjusted life-years in the WHO-Europe[3],[4]. Social and economic inequality and exclusion are both a cause and a consequence of mental ill-health.

Mental ill-health can affect persons at any age in a variety of forms (e.g. depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, ADHD…). These conditions go hand in hand with substantial stigma, costs and consequences that impact individuals, families and carers, health and social systems, society and the economy.

Evidence shows that life expectancy can be reduced by mental disorders, sometimes with a greater impact than smoking or obesity. In particular, mental disorders can be the precursors to chronic diseases, consequences of them, or the result of interactive effects. In addition to a higher risk of physical illness such as coronary heart disease, Type 2 diabetes or respiratory disease, mental disorders (such as depression) often exacerbate unhealthy life styles including smoking, substance abuse, physical inactivity and insufficient sleep[5],[6].

On the other hand, poor physical health increases the risk of mental ill-health: the risk of depression is doubled for people with diabetes, hypertension, coronary artery disease and heart failure, and tripled in those with stroke, end-stage renal failure and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Children experiencing a serious or chronic illness are also twice as likely to develop emotional disorders.

[1] http://psychopathology.imedpub.com/empowering-people-with-mental-illness-within-health-services.php?aid=17223, http://psychopathology.imedpub.com/empowering-people-with-mental-illness-within-health-services.php?aid=17223, https://www.health.gov.au/internet/main/publishing.nsf/content/CFA833CB8C1AA178CA257BF0001E7520/$File/servpri.pdf,http://www.ccomssantementalelillefrance.org/sites/ccoms.org/files/pdf/Empowerment%20and%20Mental%20Health%20in%20Community.pdf

[2] http://www.euro.who.int/en/health-topics/noncommunicable-diseases/mental-health/data-and-resources

[3] https://www.mentalhealthandwellbeing.eu/assets/docs/publications/Framework%20for%20action_19jan%20(1)-20160119192639.pdf

[4] The ROAMER report states that this is up to 37%  https://cordis.europa.eu/result/rcn/171328_en.html;

also see Wittchen et al 2011, European Neuropsychopharmacology reporting that over 38% of the European population will experience a mental health problems in any given year.

[5] www.euro.who.int/en/health-topics/noncommunicable-diseases/mental-health/data-and-resources

[6] http://www.ox.ac.uk/news/2014-05-23-many-mental-illnesses-reduce-life-expectancy-more-heavy-smoking


Childers welcomes launch of the MEP Digestive Health Group

News item

Tuesday 15 May 2018

I am delighted to be launching the MEP Digestive Health Group today as Co-Chair, with my colleague MEP Pavel Poc (Chair).

Digestive diseases last a lifetime and cause around one million deaths each year in Europe across all age groups.The lifelong, relapsing nature of some chronic digestive diseases is a painful reality for patients, affecting quality of life and reducing daily life productivity. Digestive diseases, including Crohn’s disease, colitis and digestive cancers, are estimated to reduce daily life productivity by 26%. The mission of the MEP Digestive Health Group is to improve digestive health by awareness raising and the promotion of policy initiatives related to counter chronic digestive diseases, prevention and treatment of digestive cancer, nutrition & alcohol-related harm.

A key objective of the launch event is to give an overview on the status quo of digestive health in Europe, and to raise awareness of the chronic nature of digestive diseases and their socio-economic impact. United European Gastroenterology, medical professional association, will provide the evidence-based scientific outlook while leading policy makers from the European Parliament and the European Commission will share their perspectives on what can be done at EU level to improve digestive health.


Blog

Thursday 3 May 2018

Today, I am delighted to have been asked to launch the European Thrombosis and Haemostasis Alliance, together with my colleague Aldo Patriciello, and the European Thrombosis and Haemostasis Alliance (ETHA) at an event titled  “Tackling Non-Communicable Diseases: EU leadership in thrombosis and haemostasis research”  

The event will address the burden of thrombosis and haemostasis in Europe and the need for greater recognition of medical research in the field of non-communicable diseases, in particular thrombosis, in the upcoming Framework Programme 9.

For almost a year now, I have chaired the European Parliament Working Group on innovation, access to medicines and poverty-related diseases. In this Working Group the focus on health is directed more towards developing countries and the difficulties patients face when trying to access treatment.

As you may already know, 1 in 4 people worldwide die of conditions related to blood clots. Cardiovascular disorders caused by thrombosis cost EU health systems around 1.5 to 2.2 billion EURO per year in direct costs, while indirect costs such as disability and productive life years lost are estimated to be as high as 13.2 billion EURO per year.

We know that in Europe, but not only, there is a rapid increase in chronic diseases coupled by an ageing population, so we are expecting these figures to rise year on year.

The European Commission has already funded a number of research projects on thrombosis and haemostasis, and I am hoping they will do the same with the next round of funding.

Many people are not aware of the signs and symptoms to watch for and so many cases deteriorate unnoticed, leading to preventable premature deaths.

As a politician, I would like to see the Commission taking this matter seriously and directing some of the FP9 funding towards supporting medical research, mission projects and promoting best practices among EU member states.

In order to see real change happening, we need more thorough awareness raising by public health authorities and better education about thrombosis and haemostasis among the general population. We also need to see more consistency when it comes to applying preventative measures, in order to reduce the rates of preventable clots. This is a cross-cutting public health issue which could be tackled from various angles, from physical exercise to diet and more widely available literature.

Finally I would like to make a point about the negative impact Brexit will have on access to health care on the Island of Ireland if cross-border health care is jeopardised in the negotiations.

At the moment, cancer and cardiac care and ENT surgery are among those services now provided on a cross-border basis in certain areas. More specifically, cardiac treatment in Derry is available to patients from Co Donegal and pediatric cardiac surgery services in Dublin are available for children from Northern Ireland.