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MENTAL HEALTH, AN UNDERCOVER EPIDEMIC

Special Feature of the Research*eu magazine:
401107World Mental Health Day is observed on 10 October every year, with the aim of raising awareness of mental health issues across the globe and helping facilitate patient access to robust, modern and comprehensive mental healthcare services. This is especially important as the issue of mental health in many countries, including those within Europe, is often seen as a taboo subject, with high levels of social stigma associated with mental illness.
Breaking down barriers for better mental healthcare provision in Europe
Mental health encompasses a wide spectrum of conditions, with some of the most prominent in the public’s mind arguably being depression-related illnesses. But other conditions that are firmly under the mental health umbrella include schizophrenia, Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), bipolar disorder, anxiety, eating disorders, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), autism and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Europe in no way fares better than other regions of the world with regards to levels of mental health affliction. The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimated in 2014 that 27 % of the adult population in EU countries (plus Iceland, Norway and Switzerland) had experienced at least one of a series of mental health disorders in the previous year. Other estimates put the figure of Europeans suffering from mental health distress to be as high as 38 % – an enormous burden on individuals, society, healthcare systems and the wider economy. The overall financial costs of mental illnesses, in terms of both direct medical, as well as indirect costs, amount to more than EUR 450 billion per year in the EU. With such alarming figures for both human and economic costs, more action must be taken to tackle the widespread, yet still somewhat undercover, mental health epidemic.

Thus, in this the first special section of our newly revamped Research*eu magazine, we’re playing our part in raising awareness of mental health disorders and the individuals who struggle with them on a daily basis. We’re doing this by showcasing some of the innovative EU-funded projects that have dedicated themselves to developing solutions (medical, technological and policy-based) to tackle the mental health crisis in Europe and worldwide.

Some of our featured projects have focused on frontline mental health services and the need to provide patients with better integrated and flexible care provision. Others have been working on new treatments for specific disorders, such as aggression and psychosis. A third group of projects have been advancing two very promising and exciting new fields of research, specifically the use of innovative MRI scanners and virtual reality tools to better diagnose and treat mental disorders.

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The European Paediatric Translational Research Infrastructure General Assembly in Athens

imagesThe 2nd General Assembly of the EPTRI – European Paediatric Translational Research Infrastructure, project will be held in Athens at the President Hotel (address: 43 Kifissias Av. Athens, Greece 115 23) on the 9th and 10th of October, 2018.

EPTRI is a EU-funded project coordinated by Consorzio per Valutazioni Biologiche e Farmacologiche (CVBF) with the aim to design the framework for a new European Paediatric Research Infrastructure (RI).
Minors represent 20% of the European population and their care is one of the most important priorities and challenges for Europe. It’s essential the development of evidence-based paediatric medicines and treatment strategies. Nowadays around the 50% of the medicines addressed to children and young patients have not been tested specifically for them. For this reason, it’s strategic the development of the suitable research infrastructure that can solve this problem, studying the paediatric research from the early phases to the paediatric formulation. Children and young patients cannot be never compared with adults as they are growing up and their metabolism is different. For this reason, the only way to develop better medicines for children and young patients is studying them specifically for this type of “special” population.
eptri-logoA dedicated infrastructure integrating the different basic research networks addressed to paediatric population will help in the process to reduce time and increase the number of projects. On the other hand, it also can help to a fast translation into the clinical practice.

EPIONI officially supports EPTRI, having recognised the relevance of this new European research infrastructure for the patients and the patients’ organisations because it can lead to a dramatic improvement of the health conditions of children, also enhancing the paediatric patients’ involvement and empowerment.

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Black Mark: A letter from a sibling

Writing-Letter-58bad5125f9b58af5cb83dc8“Dear Mom
Recently I panicked, again.
Panic, that you are not around anymore and I have to pick up the broken pieces, and decide alone, what happens with my brother.
He has no income, he does not visit a doctor, accepts no help, does not leave the house …
I shared my thoughts with my husband and he said: “Ever since I’ve known you, you’ve had the same worries. But so far, nothing has changed. Everything is still as it was, there is still no solution for the situation and your mom is still alive!”.
That clicked with me! I started laughing …
Actually, I have been living in this future horror moment for so long, in the fear of what will happen one day …
What a waste of life!
When somebody is as ill as my brother, somehow everyone in the family is ill, in their own way.
I do not know how do you must feel knowing that your child and my brother never will… You have invested so much hope and love, care and patience, so that one day he can take his place in this world.
Walk his path in life,  get married, have children of his own, rise up in job …
He had great plans and so many talents, the golden boy.
He turned 50 in March. No job, no children, no more friends, no plans for the future, days dragging themselves from one sleep cycle to the next.
For over 20 years. The two of you, together.
Dad is not with us anymore, I live far away.
For the first ten years, you even convinced me that he only needs a little bit, then everything will work fine.
You did not want him to be ill, none of us wanted that.
I more hoped that HE would finally get a job and make it, than that I took care of myself.
I thought, then – we can all breathe deeply again.
For a long time I tried to help, yes, to influence you. I wanted you to know that you can count on me and that I am here for you.
We had endless conversations about how something needs to be done.
I was young … Today I know, I hoped, then I will be able to be the child again and you again my mother. I wanted you to be well so you that can take care of me too.
That once in a while – you can be there only for me, without the shadow of my brother. That’s all I wanted.
I also wanted you to feel good, to have private life, to be happy. I wanted a happy mother.
When I left, I took both of you in my suitcase and my soul.
It took me very long time for to make room for my needs in my own chest- without feeling guilty about it. To make this room free, I oscillated between grief, anger, guilt, desolation, emptiness, anger and sometimes I banned both of you from my thoughts.
Never for a long time…
I have never talked about this shadow over our family with anyone except my husband.
Now I talk to a whole group, once a month:
sisters and brothers of mentally ill siblings, romantic …
In the group we all have this black mark, no one stares at me because of it, everyone has their own.
I can talk freely about how I feel and what moves me without fear that I will overwhelm the person I talk to.
Everyone in the group knows it.
When I tell my story, some become sad hearing it, the others seem thrown back into their own story, and then others seem almost hard, no weakness allowed…
We all in the group are seeking help.
Regardless of how each of us deals with it, we all sit together on this train.
On the train, in which we have little to say, a lot to experience, and no-one asks us if we want to take this ride…
Some of us see with great clarity how the whole family is driving against the wall – at full speed, – but we are not steering the wheel, we are not in charge, it’s not our children …
Even when nothing else in life works, self-preservation drive from most of our siblings works flawlessly.
Feeling that your strength dwindles, my brother is checking me, if I’d be ok as a new host.
He is afraid of what will become of him. I am afraid of what will become of him, what will become of me.
After all that was done for him,  now I should take care of my brother!?
I?
The unimportant, self-preserving, foreign, seemingly detached from the situation child and yet the hostage of this family history.
My brother should be my heritage!?
Everything in me screams NO!
What will I really do?
I do not know.”
Author: G.R.
Member of Siblings Network Germany
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Caring for Carers: Young carers in a changing world

EPIONI on September the 28th 2018, organized at the office of the European Parliament in Athens, a conference focusing on young caregivers. The event was under the auspices of the Ministry of Health in Greece, the World Federation for Mental Health, the Hellenic Psychiatric Association, and the European Brain Council.

Video 1st part

Video 2nd part

02The Commission advocates the introduction of a new entitlement for caregivers, which includes a five-days compensated Carers leave per worker per year, which should be compensated no less than a compensated sick leave. Additionally, the Commission advocates the entitlement of  flexible working arrangements for the same reason said the European Commissioner for Health and Food Safety Vytenis Andriukaitis. (Video Message)

In the conference, prominent scientists such as Professor of Psychiatry George Christodoulou, Dr Dimitrios Kontis, Dr Kalliopi Panagiotopoulou, Mr. Panagiotis Chondros from NGO EPAPSY, Dr. George Pavlidis from the University of Sheffield and Mr. Alexandros Oikonomou from NGO EDRA gave insights about long term care. Other prominent speakers included Mr. Stecy Yghemonos, Executive Director of Eurocarers, Mrs Miia Männikkö, President of EUFAMI and Professor Peykan Gokalp from Turkey. The event which had the support of the European Parliament office in Greece and the European Commission Representation in Greece gave the opportunity to caregivers such as Mrs Dragana Kistner from Germany and Mrs. Stefania Buoni, president and founder of COMIP from Italy to share their personal experiences and discuss the challenges involved in caregiving.

Mr Lorenzo Mannu shared his experience from the perspective of civil service in Italy.The conference was organized by EPIONI with the support of MEP from Czech Republic, Mr Tomas Zdechovsky (Welcome Speech), former MEP Mr Nikos Chrysogelos and MEP from Greece Mrs Kostadinka Kuneva.

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Former minister of Education and Health Mrs Marietta Giannakou delivered a welcome speech.

We would like to thank Interamerican, Pharmaserve Lilly and AMKE Aegeas for their generous support and www.psychologynow.grwww.socialpolicy.gr and www.iatronet.gr for being the media sponsors.

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Επιτυχημένη ημερίδα “Φροντίζοντας τους Φροντιστές”

02Η ΕΠΙΟΝΗ διοργάνωσε με επιτυχία, στις 28 Σεπτεμβρίου 2018, στο γραφείο του Ευρωπαϊκού Κοινοβουλίου στην Αθήνα, ημερίδα με θέμα τους νεαρούς φροντιστές.

Η εκδήλωση είχε την αιγίδα του Υπουργείου Υγείας, της Παγκόσμιας Ομοσπονδίας Ψυχικής Υγείας, της Ελληνικής Ψυχιατρικής Εταιρίας και του Ευρωπαϊκού Συμβουλίου για τον Εγκέφαλο.

Ο Λιθουανός Ευρωπαίος Επίτροπος Υγείας,  Βιτένις Αντριουκάιτις, υπογράμμισε στον χαιρετισμό του την σημαντική συνεισφορά των φροντιστών σε μια εποχή που λόγω της οικονομικής κρίσης πολλοί επαγγελματίες υγείας έχουν φύγει από την Ελλάδα. Η Επιτροπή συμμερίζεται το δικαίωμα κάθε φροντιστή σε 5 ημέρες άδειας ανα έτος, με αποζημείωση όση η άδεια υγείας και το δικαίωμα να διεκδικούν ευέλικτα ωράρια εργασίας από τους εργοδότες.

Η ημερίδα  φιλοξένησε σημαντικούς επιστήμονες όπως ο καθηγητής ψυχιατρικής κος Γιώργος Χριστοδούλου, ο Δρ. Δημήτριος Κόντης, η Δρ. Καλλιόπη Παναγιωτοπούλου, ο κ. Παναγιώτης Χόνδρος από την ΜΚΟ ΕΠΑΨΥ ο Δρ. Γιώργος Παυλίδης από το Πανεπιστήμιο του Sheffield και ο κ. Αλέξανδρος Οικονόμου από την ΜΚΟ ΕΔΡΑ.

Στην ημερίδα της 28.9.2018 συμμετείχαν αξιόλογοι ομιλητές από το εξωτερικό όπως ο κος Stecy Yghemonos, εκτελεστικός διευθυντής της ομοσπονδίας Eurocarers, η κα Miia Männikkö πρόεδρος της ομοσπονδίας EUFAMI και η καθηγήτρια ψυχιατρικής  κα Peykan Gokalp από την Τουρκία.

Η εκδήλωση που είχε την υποστήριξη του Γραφείου του Ευρωπαϊκού Κοινοβουλίου στην Ελλάδα και της Αντιπροσωπείας της Ευρωπαϊκής Επιτροπής στην Ελλάδα έδωσε την ευκαιρία σε φροντιστές όπως η κα Dragana Kistner από τη Γερμανία και η κα Stefania Buoni, πρόεδρος της COMIP – Children Of Mentally Ill Parents, από την Ιταλία να μοιραστούν τις προσωπικές τους εμπειρίες και να συζητήσουν τις προκλήσεις που σχετίζονται με τη φροντίδα ενός συγγενή με χρόνια νόσο.

Το συνέδριο διοργανώθηκε με την ευγενική υποστήριξη του ευρωβουλευτή από την Τσεχία, κ. Tomas Zdechovsky, του πρώην ευρωβουλευτή κ. Νίκο Χρυσογέλου και της ευρωβουλευτού κας Kostadinka Kuneva.

13.jpgΗ πρώην υπουργός Παιδείας και Υγείας κα Μαριέττα Γιαννάκου απηύθυνε σύντομο χαιρετισμό.

Την ημερίδα υποστήριξαν χορηγικά οι ευαισθητοποιημένες για την ψυχική υγεία εταιρείες INTERAMERICAN, ΦΑΡΜΑΣΕΡΒ LILLY και η ΑΜΚΕ ΑΙΓΕΑΣ, ενώ χορηγοί επικοινωνίας ήταν οι ιστότοποι psychologynow.gr, socialpolicy.gr και http://www.iatronet.gr