EUFAMI25: Art Exhibition to fight STIGMA

The year 2017 marks the 25th anniversary of EUFAMI. It is a great opportunity to celebrate our achievements, demonstrate our impact and address new challenges. Moreover, this special occasion might help to gain more visibility to those who we are fighting for: families affected by mental ill health. Therefore, we decided to celebrate this milestone in our work with special events throughout the end of this year which will emphasize issues linked to mental health.

Art Exhibition

Symbolic 25 art works by 25 artists will be displayed and will be available for sale in PsychArt Gallery in Brussels (rue Thiéfry 51-53 – 1030 Schaerbeek) from 29th November 2017 until XXth December 2017. We’re hoping the exhibition will be an occasion to look at the connection between mental health and creativity, loosely connected around the theme of ‘HOME’.  Exceptionality of the event lies in a selection of participating artists as their work or their life has been influenced by the topic of mental health. Each artist has its own story which s/he would like to share with you not only through their artistic skills but also in an interview. All stories are listed below and we will publish more accordingly.

Opening Gala will be held on 30th November at 19:00 by key-note speaker …..

Artists from all over Europe donated their art works which will be sold during the exhibition. All raised money will be used to continue in our work helping to affected families.

Charity Pub Quiz

Let’s warm up first! Before we officially open the art exhibition, we would like to organize an informal pub quiz in XXXXX,, Brussels on 29th November 2017 at 20:00. It is a great opportunity to:

  • show up your knowledge
  • support our community
  • help us with advocacy
  • win one of our art works
  • end the stigma

It is possible to sign up as group or as an individual a. Registration is required due to limited places and a deadline for registration is XX.XX.2017.


XX per person

XX per table of 5 people / EU institution

XX per table of 5 people / NGO

XX per table of 5 people / private company


Participating Artists

Anthony Fisher – photographer


Why to support EUFAMI?

The proceeds of the exhibition and the pub quiz will be donated to EUFAMI to raise awareness of the needs of carers of people with mental ill health.

  • We advocate on behalf interests of people with mental ill health and their carers
  • We support process of deinstitutionalisation and back to society: in order to take people with diagnoses from hospitals, care homes or hospices home to their loved ones. To make this happen, policy needs to be put in place to support carers
  • We influence policy through numerous interventions at EU-level
  • We helped advocate for the inclusion of carer’s leave and flexible working arrangements in the New start to support work-life balance for parents and carers


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How to buy an art work?

How can I support EUFAMI?

How can I register for the pub quiz?

I want to prepare a set of questions for the pub quiz. How can I do it?

What are the opening hours of PsychArt Gallery?


Disclaimer: The Charity Pub Quiz is a separate celebration event organised solely by EUFAMI with support of …… (list of sponsors).


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Irish media win awards for mental health reporting

Headline, the media monitoring programme for mental health and suicide prevention in Ireland, marked its 10th anniversary on 12 July in Dublin with an awards ceremony to recognise accurate and positive reporting on mental health.

The event was hosted by Headline Director and Shine CEO, John Saunders, who underlined the media’s role in affecting people’s mindset:

“Research has shown that people often form their attitudes about mental health difficulties and suicidal behaviour through television programmes, radio programmes, news reports and other forms of media. It is vital that we work with media professionals to increase public understanding.”

The  Irish Examiner   was chosen as the winner of its 2017 Overall Award for positive media coverage of mental health and suicide related issues, the   Evening Echo   won the Regional Newspaper of the Year Award 2017 for journalism relating to mental health and suicide and TheJournal.ie was chosen as the winner of the 2017 Headline Voice Media Award for both its excellent quality and quantity of media coverage given to people with self-experience.

Mental health activist at goneonfortoolong.com,   Nathalie Marr, and contributor to the TheJournal.ie, said she was concerned about the consequences of sharing her mental health issues in a public forum :

“There were many considerations going through my mind. Would it affect my future employability, if a potential employer were to Google me? One of my later articles was actually about this exact topic. How would it affect me to read negative comments left on anything of mine that was published? That’s the reality we live in, with facilities such as comment sections on online news publications!”

Mrs. Marr now plays a role in motivating and inspiring aspiring writers to stand up for what is right:

“Don’t assume that you don’t need to do anything because the next person will. They’re thinking the exact same thing about you! If we continue in this fashion, we will not get far with wanting change.”

At EUFAMI, we hope the Headline event will help media organisation be more aware of the powerful role they can play in changing the perception of mental ill health and encourage more accurate and positive reporting in the future.

For more guidelines about reporting on mental health, please refer to Headline or consult EUFAMI’s Lexicon guide:



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EUFAMI attends EU-level working meeting on transition care

Global Alliance of Mental Illness Advocacy Networks-Europe (GAMIAN-Europe) and the European Brain Council (EBC) organised a working meeting in Brussels on Tuesday 11th July 2017 to discuss the issue of transition of care in mental health services.  It was attended by EUFAMI board member  Spyros Zorbas.

The working meeting, moderated by International Health Policy Advisor and former MEP John Bowis, assembled key stakeholders with an interest in improving the mental health outcomes of patients in Europe, with a focus on the transition of care from childhood to adulthood in mental health services – taking ADHD as an example.

Several initiatives at EU and country level have started to focus on issues of transition, but there remains a pressing need to ensure patients about to enter the transition phase are adequately supported.

The European Psychiatric Association President Silvana Galderisi, ADHD Europe President Andrea Bilbow OBE, as well as neurologists, patient representatives, academics and mental health advocacy groups explored the reasons why transition care is currently suboptimal and agreed on a roadmap for driving improvements in this area.

The perspective of family carers was underlined by several participants. EUFAMI board member Spyros Zorbas reiterated the importance of family support in ADHD.   Mr. Zorbas has been running a series of support groups for adults with ADHD in Greece since 2008.

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Dignity for Petya: A Bulgarian mental health story

EUFAMI received this story from Bulgarian association BGFAMI about Petya Bakalova who is living with schizophrenia.  It was written by Kalina Bakalova, Petya’s cousin and legal guardian:


Kalina Bakalova

Petya’s story:

The story of my cousin Petya Bakalova shows how much more needs to be done so that the people with mental disability can have a life of dignity in Bulgaria.

The Beginning: In the spring of 2015 I visited my estranged cousin Petya in her apartment in the small Bulgarian town of Kardzali. Her legal guardian let me inside Petya’s apartment. I expected to find her living the way she used to while her parents were alive. What I saw shook me to my very core. I found Petya locked in a filthy apartment. Her fist words were, “I am not well. I do not get enough food.” I immediately took pictures to document her dire living conditions.


The System of Legal Incapacity: Petya is legally incapacitated. For that reason I was helpless to change her plight for many months. I could not simply take her out of her apartment for without her guardian’s consent it would have been illegal. All I could do was petition with the guardianship authority of the mayor of Kardzali. Surprisingly, the mayor’s office refused to acknowledge Petya’s suffering. My petition was met with silence for several months. Since Petya’s was kept locked I could not even see her. She continued to endure inhumane living conditions. She stayed locked, dirty and hungry.

The public outcry: In my desperation, I turned to the general public for support. I created a facebook page named The Voice of Petya. In addition, two lawyers – Dima Georgieva and Aneta Genova – began working on Petya’s case pro bono. The Bulgarian National Radio broadcasted Petya’s story and was able to procure several interviews with the mayor’s administration. Meanwhile, Petya had no voice. The mayor’s administration presented her as violent and dangerous. Her mental disability was used to justify the horrendous living conditions she was enduring.

The climax: About half a year after I first entered Petya’s apartment, her guardian gave in to the public pressure and gave up her guardianship. The mayor appointed me as Petya’s guardian. I had no choice but to become part of the Bulgarian system of legal incapacity. For the one and a half years that we have spent together, Petya has made tremendous progress. At the beginning she had lost track of time. She did not know what year it was and how old she was. She hardly spoke. Currently, she can have a meaningful conversation. She has a personal assistant as part of one of the several social rehabilitation programs she participates in. She likes going to the park and sitting on a bench. She likes corn, but hates tomatoes. She loves old Bulgarian pop songs and dislikes rock. Amazingly, she has no place for hate in her heart. She seeks no revenge for the past.

The aftermath: The system of legal incapacity in Bulgaria needs to change. It is a system that enables gross abuse. Furthermore, social attitudes need to change. Petya was for a long time victim to stigmatic misconceptions. It was so very easy for her to be presented as aggressive and lacking self awareness. Most importantly, society should switch its focus from controlling and isolating to supporting and integrating the people with mental disability.

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EUFAMI welcomes UN Special Rapporteur Report on Mental Health and Human Rights

The recently published UN Report of the Special Rapporteur on Mental Health and Human rights expresses several concerns surrounding the rights of persons with mental ill health, such as the chronic underfunding of mental health services around the world, stigmatisation and discrimination of persons with mental ill health, and the need to shift from institutional care settings to community-based care.

Discrimination negatively affects availability of and access to mental health services. Persons experience multiple and intersectoral forms of discrimination, which may deter them from seeking aid or enjoying high-quality services. Discrimination in everyday life, such as in schools, or the workspace, may harm the formation of healthy relationships, which detrimentally impacts mental health. Also, the Report adds, the role of diagnosis and its impact on the person’s life has to be recognised in the context of stigmatisation and labelling.

The UN Special Rapporteur encourages the use of the psychosocial model by service providers, researchers, and in medical education. The psychosocial model builds from the biomedical model and looks beyond biological determinants to also take social determinants of mental ill health into account.

The report highlights that globally, mental health expenditure is dwarfed by physical health expenditure. The funding gap between higher- and lower- to middle-income countries was also highlighted; mental health expenditure is much higher on per-capita terms in the high-income world.

Additionally, institutionalisation and segregated mental health facilities are reported as concerning because they contribute to stigmatisation, and in certain cases violate the human rights of persons in the facilities. Facilities are understaffed in many countries, facing shortages of specialist and non-specialist staff.

The accessibility of mental health services is another factor; in low- and middle-income countries, services are found around cities and urbanised regions, with low availability in urban regions. Segregation of mental health services perpetuate this gap, as it further geographically concentrates the availability of services.

EUFAMI supports the holistic, multifaceted approach to diagnosis, treatment, and research in mental health, looking beyond a purely biomedical model to take social determinants into account as well. Mental health is in the space between persons, and one of the reasons why we continue advocate for inclusion of users, family members, and other social contacts in the care team as active participants. We strongly support the transitioning to community-based care settings, provided that de-institutionalisation is not used as a pure cost-cutting mechanism and investments are made in community support services, including for family carers.

We therefore welcome the report as an additional tool for advocacy towards a wide range of accessible mental health services for users and families, involving them as active participants.

Read report: Special Rapporteur on the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health

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A family perspective on services for persons living with schizophrenia

At the conclusion of the European Brain Council’s study on the “Value of Treatment for Brain Disorders” (VoT project) EUFAMI is proud to present the report of its contribution to the schizophrenia case study.

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FamiliarMente receives audience with Portuguese President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa

Portuguese mental health association FamiliarMente was received by President šMarcelo Rebelo de Sousa on 15 May, 2017 to mark International Family Day.  The association’s President and vice-President, Joaquina Castelão and Miguel Durães discussed various issues connected to mental health with specific emphasis on the role of family carers.

FamiliarMente also participated in EUFAMI’s Annual General Meeting between 9-11 June, 2017 and updated members on some of its key developments in the first 6 months of the year, including šthe appointment of FamiliarMente, as an effective member of the National Health Council after being elected by the National Parliament.

On š19 July 2017 FamiliarMente will attend the National Parliament for a public plenary session to assess a petition launched by the association.

For a round-up of all the association’s key events please consult the following Powerpoint below:



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Internship offer: join us and help advocate for better mental health

EUFAMI was founded in 1992 to support families affected by mental ill health. We are committed to promoting the rights of and improving care for people affected by mental health problems. EUFAMI develops programmes and resources supporting families affected by severe mental ill health and the organisations representing them across Europe. We enable our member organisations to act jointly at a European Level, combining their efforts, linking up information and support services and sharing best practices.

Special Events & Fundraising Internship 

Job Description

 As Fundraising and Special Events intern, you will work on a wide variety of tasks leading up to EUFAMI’s 25th anniversary celebrations in November 2017.

You will need to work independently and as part of a small, close-knit team to ensure the smooth running of preparations leading up this key event in EUFAMI’s history.

The role will allow you to gain familiarity of the work of a Europe-wide NGO advocating in the interests of people with mental ill health and their families.  An interest in EU health policy and mental health is an asset though not a pre-requisite.

The Special Events  & Fundraising Internship’s responsibilities will include…

  • Assisting with all aspects in the preparation of EUFAMI’s anniversary celebrations, including scouting venues, compiling guest lists, and overseeing basic budgetary requirements
  • Responding to a host of requests and keeping related internal and external parties up-to-date with proceedings
  • Researching and assisting in reaching out to potential celebrity ambassadors to help promote best practices in mental health care
  • Liaising with local suppliers and contractors in logistical support in the run up to the anniversary and during the celebration itself
  • Working in collaboration with the administrator and communications officer to help in the smooth running of daily tasks as required.

Profile and qualifications 

  • Some experience in event coordination and fundraising activities within community associations
  • A university degree or equivalent
  • An international outlook, and an understanding of the role a small NGO can play within a European context
  • Strong social skills and a positive, can-do attitude
  • An excellent command of spoken and written English. Other European languages are an asset.
  • A basic knowledge of MS Office software to include Outlook, Word, Excel, and PowerPoint


  • Gaining experience in event coordination and fundraising within a European context
  • A chance to meet key stakeholders within the EU institutions in Brussels involved with health and mental health

DURATION: 6 months starting asap (July 1)




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