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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.


Childers excoriates EU Commission’s top civil servant flash promotion

News item

Thursday 19 Apr 2018

Nessa Childers, MEP for Dublin, expressed disappointment in the outcome of the European Parliament’s reaction to the lightning-fast appointment of Martin Selmayr, former head of cabinet to EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, as Commission Secretary-General.

Ms. Childers’ remarks came on foot of today’s vote in Parliament of a resolution criticising the manner and timing of his appointment.

Speaking from Strasbourg after the vote in Parliament, this afternoon, Ms. Childers said:

“This appointment bore the hallmarks of a bureaucratic coup, which Messrs. Juncker and Selmayr have proven adept at in the past.

“They have now exceeded themselves and turned it into an art form, with a double promotion, a lightning fast procedure on foot of the sudden retirement announcement from the outgoing top Commission civil servant, and only one competitor for the post, in the form of Mr. Selmayr’s deputy, who withdrew her candidacy after the procedure was well underway.

“Mr. Juncker appears to have press-ganged the whole college of commissioners into accepting him, and then told Parliament that, should it call for Mr. Selmayr’s resignation from his newfound post as top Commission civil servant, Mr. Juncker would resign himself.

“While I fully endorse Parliament’s express criticism of a procedure that was devised to respect the letter of the law in the strictest sense, while running roughshod over any notions of propriety and ethics in public administration, I wish I and like-minded colleagues had mustered a majority to call Mr. Juncker’s bluff.

“This is the kind of Brussels-based maneuvering that cheapens the European project, gives the EU institutions a bad name and provides easy fodder for tabloid headlines that end up with outcomes such as the Brexit vote.

“Naked political appointments of this kind undermine the spirit and legitimacy of the civil service and are a blow to the morale and career prospects of those who do their jobs day in, day out in our institutions without resorting to party political manoeuvring.

“In fairness to Mr. Selmayr, for all the legs up he has been given by Fine Gael’s Christian Democrat EPP group, he is a career civil servant.

“That’s more than can be said for a lot of political appointees that have been parachuted into the higher echelons of our civil service ranks in the European Parliament, on foot of suspiciously tailor-made competitions for people who often transit from political group staffs to the President’s cabinet.

“We need to clean up our act within our own house if we are to enjoy the legitimacy and moral authority that should accompany our role in bringing the Commission to account.

“I fear this is why we didn’t dare to go further as a Parliament on this occasion. As a fellow EPP colleague of Fine Gael’s candidly put it at a previous debate, they don’t want to probe the Commission too much, lest they start looking into our own family affairs over here.”

ENDS


One more painful step on steep climb to peak emissions

News item

Wednesday 18 Apr 2018

Nessa Childers, MEP for Dublin, expressed disappointment at the mixed outcome from votes on measures to control emissions and climate change in the European Parliament.

Parliament confirmed agreement with the Council of EU Member State governments on a raft of measures, which included a regulation to cut greenhouse gas emissions in sectors such as transport, agriculture, waste and buildings.

Other pieces of legislation passed today accounts for the role of land use and forestry in emissions and climate change, as well as new rules on the energy performance of buildings.

Speaking from Strasbourg, in reaction to the outcome of the votes, Ms. Childers, a member of Parliament’s Environment committee, said:

“I am disappointed to see this regulation on greenhouse gas emissions come short of what the future requires of Europe.

“We are talking about 30% reductions, by 2030, in sectors that account for almost two thirds of emissions on our continent. This is not enough to flesh out our commitments in the UN Paris Agreement.

“Recently, we passed long overdue reforms of the EU’s Emissions Trading System, to deal with the glut of carbon allowances that cheapened the production of emissions in the heavy industry and energy sectors.

“Today we haven’t come even near the 40% target in reductions we achieved then.

“Member State governments choose to drag their feet and protect the tired old ways of doing business at home.

“They remain blinded to ever clearer and present risks by the demands and short-term interests of preferred constituencies.

“Even in Ireland, we have started to feel the human and social costs of more extreme climate phenomena. There isn’t just opportunity in a proper, full-scale energy and industrial transition, but also resilience and survival, if we stay below catastrophic levels of global warming.

“Business as usual is not an option. The planet won’t wait for us to face up to the facts we need to act upon.”

ENDS