New milestone for Joint Statement on mental health

A total of 20 organisations have signed the Joint Statement that emerged from the Mental Health network on the European health Policy Platform.

We believe that this is an important milestone, which we should all celebrate.

EUFAMI Secretary General Aagje Ieven had the occasion to present the statement during the EP Interest Group on Carers on April 11th and again, alongside MHE, during the Public Policy Exchange event on “Mental Health in Europe: Promoting Equal Opportunities and Social Participation” on April 12th.

We understand the next step will be for us to present the statement to EC staff members responsible for mental health across the different DG’s.

We also look forward to bringing all 20 signatories around the table to discuss how we could cooperate to ensure that our recommendations are picked up.

Once again, we sincerely thank MHE and all the signatories for their support and cooperation.

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EUFAMI welcomes commitments enshrined in EU’s Social Pillar

The European Commission recently made public the EU Social Pillar of Rights in the form of a Recommendation listing 20 key principles which should drive the EU’s social policy agenda in the future. The Social Pillar aims to strengthen the common market by stimulating upward convergence between the social and welfare systems of the Member States.
EUFAMI took part in the consultations leading up to this action and is pleased to see that the concerns of carers continue to be recognized across a number of key areas. We particularly welcome the proposed inclusion of carers’ leave and flexible working arrangements in the “New Start to support work-life balance for parents and carers” – the first legislative initiative taken by the Commission to implement the social pillar of rights.
Our Caring4Carers survey showed that caregivers of a loved one experiencing severe mental ill health are predominantly female (80%) and spend, on average, 22 hours a week in caregiving activities – the equivalent of a part-time job. This creates additional hurdles for them to participate in the labour market, as it puts a hard limit on the degree of involvement. Allowing workers to request flexible working arrangements to care for “seriously ill or dependent relatives”, enables them to retain social protection entitlements and to continue to build their pensions, providing more financial security to the caregiver, and in many case also the person being cared for.

Carers who are in a position to combine work and care report a better quality of life and higher self-esteem than those who do not (2015 Eurofound) and as the proposed policies are all targeted to facilitating that combination, EUFAMI very much welcomes every step taken in that direction. That said, caring for a family member is also a valid choice – a positive experience for most with a majority in the C4C survey reporting closer ties with the family member they cared for and saying they had discovered inner strength. Much more could be done to recognize the significant (economic) contribution informal carers contribute to society and to recognize their status.

Moreover, for our constituency, mental health friendly workplaces are key to making the combination of working and caring for someone with mental ill health work and the ambition to make every workplace mental health friendly should guide any future legislation on health and safety at work.

EUFAMI will continue to advocate for these views, while monitoring any future initiatives related to the Social Pillar. Please do not hesitate to contact us with any questions you may have regarding the activities.

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