Working with World Bodies
Global Mental Health Advocacy Leadership Forum
A Forum, convened recently in Belgium, provided an opportunity for representatives from five leading mental health organizations from around the world – including WFSAD – to build relationships, focus on issues for collaboration and ultimately enhance their ability to be heard on important mental health matters. The result of the Forum was a five-point plan of action for the purpose of developing and sustaining collaborative efforts.
Leuven, Belgium, 04 July 2007
Five international mental health organizations whose members represent more than 100 countries, met in Leuven, Belgium July 2nd to 4th for the first Global Mental Health Advocacy Leadership Forum. The participating organizations were the European Federation of Associations of Families of People with Mental Illness (EUFAMI), the Global Alliance of Mental Illness Advocacy Networks (GAMIAN-Europe), Mental Health Europe (MHE), the World Federation for Mental Health (WFMH), and the World Fellowship for Schizophrenia and Allied Disorders (WFSAD).
Goals of Forum
Leadership of the participating organizations share the belief that this is an important time in the evolution of mental health treatment and services, public mental health policy, promotion, prevention and public awareness worldwide. The primary goal for organizing and convening the Forum was to provide a significant opportunity for organizations to:
- build relationships and mutual understanding,
- explore a range of cross-cutting issues that can be effectively addressed through collaboration and cooperation,
- establish a basic plan and procedure for sharing of information among the organizations and their members/constituencies, and
- create opportunities to interact formally and informally to enhance their capacity to be heard on matters of importance to the global mental health community.
Challenges Facing Mental Health Movement
The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that 450 million people worldwide are affected by a mental illness or mental health problems; yet, fewer that 4 in 10 will receive any intervention or support. In spite of these dire statistics, the gap continues to widen between the growing burden of disease caused by mental health problems and the amount of funding available to address them.
The mental health movement faces a number of critical challenges, including:
- the need to effectively counter persistent stigma and discrimination, and social exclusion,
- inadequate public policy addressing emotional well-being and mental disorders,
- inadequate funding for services to treat and prevent mental disorders and for mental health promotion and well-being, and
- the growing burden of disease resulting from mental disorders worldwide.
These leading mental health NGOs recognize the importance of developing a more united global voice to promote effective action to address these and other important issues and to advance mental health as a global health priority.
Areas of Discussion
Among the areas discussed were:
- reducing stigma, social exclusion and discrimination that remain major barriers for people affected by mental health problems,
- promoting recovery by encouraging greater identification and replication of good practices in mental health care,
- encouraging greater emphasis on the promotion of emotional well-being,
- increasing supports for families of those affected by mental illnesses in their daily lives,
- pressing for greater protection for the human rights and humane treatment of persons affected by mental disorders, and
- working collectively to create a more united global voice for advancement of mental health developments and priorities.
Plan of Action
The participants proposed a five-point plan of action through which to develop and sustain their collaborative efforts to carry out the following:
- establish a mechanism for regular inter-organization communication and mutual support,
- work together in developing strategies for building a united global voice for mental health advocacy, promotion, and services,
- explore the development and adoption of jointly prepared position statements on selected major issues affecting the mental health sector,
- work with the World Health Organization (WHO) to promote a higher WHO priority for mental health and mental disorders, and
- make the Global Mental Health Advocacy Leadership Forum an annual gathering.
List of Participants
Ms. INGER NILSSON, President
MR. KEVIN JONES, Secretary-General
Ms. RALUCA NICA, Immediate Past President l
Mr. YORAM COHEN, Vice-President
MENTAL HEALTH EUROPE (MHE)
Ms. MALGORZATA KMITA, President
Ms. MARY VAN DIEVEL, Director
WORLD FEDERATION FOR MENTAL HEALTH (WFMH)
Ms. SHONA STURGEON, President
Mr. PRESTON GARRISON, Secretary General/CEO
WORLD FELLOWSHIP FOR SCHIZOPHRENIA AND ALLIED DISORDERS (WFSAD)
Dr. DALE JOHNSON, President
TRISH RUEBOTTOM, Executive Director