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


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