5 minutes

Bringing mental health back to government agendas

"Headway 2023 is a multidisciplinary platform to identify key numbers and critical issues on mental health and share best practices in patient management at european level", states Daniela Bianco, partner of The European House - Ambrosetti

"Headway 2023 is a multidisciplinary platform launched in collaboration with Angelini Pharma in 2018, the year of celebration of the 40th anniversary of the Basaglia law on the closure of asylums in Italy, to identify key numbers and critical issues on mental health and share best practices in patient management at European level". Daniela Bianco, partner of The European House - Ambrosetti and head of the Healthcare area describes the initiative as follows.

How did you build this platform?

"The idea was to involve not only psychiatrists and patient associations, but also health economists and institutions in tables for discussion and dialogue, with the aim of bringing mental health back to the center of government agendas, which over the years has seen decrease the attention it needs. At a European level, 84 million people are affected by mental disorders, about one in six".

How did you manage to get these experts to collaborate?

"The idea of a multidisciplinary group involving several countries was immediately received with great interest. We have activated working groups in Italy, Spain and Poland with a continuous management of relations on our part. Italy is certainly a point of reference in this area, Spain in recent years has been following a very interesting reorganization path that approaches the Italian experience, while Poland is the expression of a part of Europe still in an embryonic phase of transformation from the institutionalized model to the community based one".

How did you get to the operational level?

"After a first phase of in-depth analysis of the European context and territorial specificities, we met the various experts individually and we activated and organized working groups by country, drawing up country reports".

What are the European best practices?

"In addition to Italy and Spain, in particular Germany, Finland and Sweden present interesting models of integration between health, school and work and often boast higher investments in mental health than southern and eastern Europe".

What are the most interesting cases in Italy?

"There are various significant experiences, for example Trieste and Modena are known for their territorial network, with facilities where recreational activities, dedicated weeks and work experience in agriculture can take place to facilitate the rehabilitation and reintegration of people".

What are the tips you got from this job?

"There is often a problem of early diagnosis and intervention. Doctors do not always have the necessary training to identify the symptoms of mental disorders and there is a lack of adequate services for the needs. It is therefore very important to invest in training and the network to allow for timely diagnosis and effective management. Various elements have also emerged to be strengthened at the organizational level and the need to bridge the gaps between the regions".

What did you understand more?

"Mental health is not just a health issue but has an important impact on the economic and social system. It is therefore necessary to activate not only health policies, but also labor, social and education policies to support the most fragile people who suffer or are at risk of mental and behavioral disorders in order to ensure an integrated path in the community they live".

Is there still a stigma about it?

"Stigma when it comes to mental illness is always a problem. This is why it is important to raise awareness on the issue. In Italy, for example, the new mental health plan does not yet exist. Also at the European level there is a need to have something similar and in this regard the Parliament made a resolution in July".

And what will Headway 2023 be?

"In continuity with the work done to date, it will proceed to dialogue with national and european institutions to bring people’s mental health to the top of the priorities of the public health agenda of the countries, also in light of the impact of the pandemic".

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