• February 2, 2023

Headway 2020, a new pathway for mental health care

Headway 2020, a new pathway for mental health care

The Brussels Forum, a high-profile conference held at the European Parliament as part of the ’Headway 2020” initiative, presented an overview of the mental health scenario in Europe, discussing upcoming challenges and real impacts in Spain, Italy, and Poland.

In Italy, 16.9 percent of the population is affected by mental disorders, but only 3.5 percent of public health spending is allocated to this area, so a new strategy is needed at the national level.
The ’Headway 2020” initiative was conceived in 2017 to create a multidisciplinary platform to promote dialogue and compare different European experiences related to mental health.

There are 84 million people in Europe suffering from mental health problems

There are 84 million people in Europe, according to 2016 estimates, suffering from mental health problems and as many as 84,000 deaths per year caused by mental illness, including acts of suicide. Mental disorders constitute the fifth most common noncommunicable disease, accounting for 22.4 percent of disability on the continent, with total costs that, according to the OECD, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, have exceeded 600 billion euros across Europe, a figure equivalent to 4 percent of European GDP. In Italy, although 16.9 percent of the population suffered from mental disorders that entail significant costs –direct and indirect costs –for the country, only 3.5 percent of total public health spending was allocated to mental health care.

Headway 2020 Forum

These are some of the data released, at the Headway 2020 Forum, a conference held at the European Parliament as part of the initiative of the same name that presented an overview of the mental health scenario in Europe, discussing the next challenges and real impacts. The Headway 2020 initiative was promoted and developed by the think tank The European House – Ambrosetti in partnership with the Italian pharmaceutical company Angelini, thanks to the contribution of international and national experts from three selected countries-Italy, Spain, and Poland.

During the conference in Brussels, the activities and results of “Headway 2020” were presented and provided an opportunity to discuss cases and virtuous experiences in order to better manage patients with mental disorders, on the eve of World Mental Health Day (Oct. 10). The “Headway 2020” project, in fact, aims to suggest concrete policy proposals and a list of priority actions to build a “new roadmap for mental health” in Europe. Today&#8217s discussion in Brussels provided an important space to raise awareness of the issue both at the European level and the member states involved, with the goal of bringing mental health to the top of the European policy agenda.

Concrete policy proposals

“Mental disorders represent one of the greatest public health challenges in terms of prevalence, burden of disease and disability, as they affect more than one third of the European population every year,” said Aldo Patriciello, MEP, “I am, therefore, particularly proud to be one of the promoters of this important event that aims to elevate the issue of mental health on the European political agenda and discuss concrete solutions and experiences from different countries.”

To open a new perspective in the field of mental health care

To open a new perspective in the field of mental health care, the work of “Headway 2020” has continued for two years, with activities aimed at sharing best practices among countries to raise awareness of institutions and communities to take action on mental health initiatives. With reference to our country, the working group held several meetings, one of which was at the Ministry of Health, and came up with specific recommendations that include the need to: develop a new national strategy through a New Mental Health Plan, improve the quality of life of people with mental health problems, and promote their social inclusion through national communication campaigns and wider access to psychological support.

Other crucial measures include the need to update the training of psychiatrists and provide specialized training courses for mental health professionals, study integrated and individualized interventions to reduce the number of relapses and hospitalizations, and increase the incidence of early diagnosis cases, which is often lacking due to underfunded mental health departments and inadequate training of professionals in primary care. Finally, it will be necessary to align the’provision of care at the local community level to equalize regional differences.

Silvana Galderisi, president of the European Psychiatry Association

“In 75 percent of cases, mental disorders begin at a young age, before the age of 24. If the disorder is not recognized and treated early, the risk of chronicization is high,” said Silvana Galderisi, President of the European Psychiatry Association. “To meet this need, it is necessary to have adequate human and economic resources that will enable the large-scale implementation of services for early diagnosis and intervention and the dissemination of the most effective intervention models.”

“HEADWAY 2020″ INITIATIVE – The “Headway 2020” initiative was conceived in 2017 with the aim of creating a multidisciplinary platform for reflection, fostering dialogue and linking different European experiences to address mental health problems in Europe. The’goal of the initiative is to share knowledge and know-how to prevent, diagnose, manage and find solutions to reduce the’incidence of mental disorders. The’initiative is consistent with the programs, activities and strategies of governments and international organizations such as the WHO and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

“Mental health still represents, in fact, a neglected therapeutic area, and the work to be done looms long. Angelini, with its deep commitment in this area, aspires to make its own contribution and faces this complex challenge by convincingly supporting quality projects such as Headway2020 – commented Pierluigi Antonelli, CEO of Angelini Pharma – We are proud of the interest and enthusiasm that the project has aroused in all participants and we firmly believe that, working side by side, we will be able to achieve our goal by providing the necessary help to patients suffering from such disabling disorders.”