HORIZON EUROPE Project – Running in the FAMILY

Horizon Europe recently funded the project named ‘Running in the FAMILY – Understanding and predicting the intergenerational transmission of mental illness’, which will officially start on Oct 1st 2022. The Project will receive nearly 11 Mio Euro funding with a project duration of 5 years (Grant Agreement No 101057529).

Mental illness runs in families. The FAMILY consortium aims to improve the life of mentally-ill persons with novel prediction models that are based on better understanding the mechanisms of intergenerational transmission of mental illness. The objectives are to improve causal understanding and gain prediction power from the family context by the innovative combination of statistical modelling of genetically informed designs, causal inference, multimodal and multilevel normative prediction, and molecular mapping, brought by world-leading neuroscientific expertise of the consortium, and address key bioethical and social issues raised by the concept of intergenerational risk transmission and risk prediction.

FAMILY will bring together the largest existing human (epi)genetic and neuroimaging datasets from both within-family population cohorts and familial high-risk offspring studies, as well as utilise innovative animal models to shed light on pathways underlying intergenerational risk transmission. FAMILY will focus specifically on risk for mood and psychosis symptoms and diagnoses. In-depth causal analyses of how and when risk for mental illness occurs will help identify early risk and resilience factors and predict who is likely to be diagnosed or develop symptoms of mental illness. Advanced insights can uncover new targets for the development of preventive strategies to break the intergenerational cycle of mental illness and to support strengths and resource building. An immediate benefit will be to open direct translational perspectives to mental health care professionals by providing new (family-based) risk prediction tools for the early identification of adults and children at risk and to deliver ethical guidelines to guide its implementation. This will accelerate preventive and treatment intervention in vulnerable families and help target resilience strategies to prevent the transition from health to disease despite high familial risk.

EUFAMI is proud and excited to be part of FAMILY, together with research groups from the Netherlands (Erasmus Medical Centre Rotterdam, Radboud University Medical Centre), UK (University College London), Germany (Leibzig Institute for resilience Research, Concentris), Switzerland (Zurich University,; Vaudois University Medical Center, Lausanne), Letvia (Letvia University, Riga), Italy (University of Perugia, Perugia), Norway (Norwegian Institute of Public Health), Spain (Fundacio privada Clinic per a la Recerca Bomedica Barcelona, Fundación Investigación Biomedica Hospital Gregorio Marañón, Madrid), and Denmark (Region Hovedstaden) and with the European Society of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (ESCAP).

EUFAMI (and ESCAP) will support FAMILY by seeking active engagement of family members, patients, and mental health care professions in research studies on the social and ethical consequences of risk prediction in clinical practice. Also, EUFAMI will support FAMILY with dissemination through the established communication channels focusing on clinical, scientific and policy making stakeholders. Through the collaboration with EUFAMI, FAMILY will have access to 38 family organisations in 26 countries throughout Europe.

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General Meeting 2022

EUFAMI Annual General Meeting took place virtually on Saturday 11th June 2022.

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EUFAMI Statement – Standing in Support of Ukraine and of peace everywhere

Since the Russian invasion of Ukraine commenced over a month ago, we are still trying to understand the evolving situation in the neighbouring countries. We at EUFAMI are closely monitoring the events with care and concern.

Since its foundation 30 years ago, EUFAMI speaks out on behalf of its members at a European level, promotes human rights of the families of people with mental ill health and facilitates humanitarian collaboration across European borders and beyond.

At its most recent meeting the Board of EUFAMI expressed its solidarity with the people of Ukraine, who are fleeing the country in thousands, and in turn with the people of Russia who have spoken out against the current aggressions.

The Board is also requesting member organisations across Europe to respond, in whatever way possible, to the needs of the Ukrainian people, especially those affected by mental Illness and their families and carers.

Humanitarian assistance can come in all sorts of forms, while it is driven by the principle of humanity. In an ongoing effort to strengthen our bonds and relationships with our member organisations and also our partners, EUFAMI will continue to act as advocates for the human and political rights of people with mental ill health and their families in Europe.

Our hearts and minds are with all who have been affected by the conflict, the people who are currently battling mental illness and their families and those who will find themselves facing further trauma during and after this unsettling period.

Sincerely,

Urs Würsch

EUFAMI President

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EUFAMI – Invitation for Project Participation – INVOLVE

Dear Members of EUFAMI,

I am delighted to inform you that EUFAMI will shortly launch a new project aimed at supporting member organisations to advocate nationally with their mental health service to improve the involvement of families in services.

The purpose of this letter is to invite you to participate, in this new project entitled Involve.

Current practice in most mental health care systems means that many relatives, friends, partners, and carers feel excluded from having or giving an informed view of their expectations and experiences in relation to the social needs and treatment of the family member they are supporting. Mental Health Services often, unconsciously and consciously, exclude family members, friends, or other care partners, from the care and treatment process and focus only on the person presenting a mental illness. International research reflects this experience and is supported by EUFAMI’s most recent research on the Value of Caring.

The Involve project has now been approved and funding has been established with our partners Boehringer Ingelheim (International) GmBH.

Please click here to view the official proposal, which provides further details of the project, for your review.

The project is limited to up to ten national organisations. Any interested organisation should send a brief email expressing interest in the project to me, Dimitra at project.admin.office@eufami.org.

The closing date for expressions of interest is 31st March 2022.

Following receipt, a Zoom meeting will be held with interested members to provide more information.

If you would like to discuss further and ask any questions before agreeing to take part, please do not hesitate to contact EUFAMI’s Executive Director, Mr John Saunders at executive.director@eufami.org or call at +353 879271292.

Many thanks for taking the time to read this information.

Sincerely

Dimitra Stefanopoulos

Administration & Communications Officer

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EUFAMI Statement on the situation in Ukraine

It is with sadness and concern in which we at EUFAMI are reaching out to you at this moment of crisis.

The Board of Directors and Secretariat of EUFAMI closely observe the latest events that are evolving and escalating in Ukraine and as an organisation that supports families of people living with mental ill health in Europe, we are conscious of the upset and danger to all those affected during this time of violence and unrest.

We are currently strengthening our relationships with our member associations and also our partners and together we will continue campaigning so that the families’ human and political rights are recognised and protected.

We will remain informed about the conflict, and we hope to have your support and guidance during this time.

Our hearts and minds are with the people of Ukraine, the people who are battling mental illness and their families and those people who will find themselves facing further trauma during and after this unsettling period.

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EUFAMI’S Prospect Family & Friends Training Programme Contents

EUFAMI’S Prospect Family & Friends Training Programme Contents

Module 1: Coming Together  This module is the first coming together for the newly formed Prospect group. It is about getting to know each other, understanding what can be expected from the training programme and what expectations the participants have.
Module 2: What we have learned about mental health problems!  In this module the participants will discuss and examine what they themselves have learned so far about “Mental Health Problems”. The module will show the participants that the first step in problem-solving approach is to define the dilemma. Once you can define it, you can begin to deal with it.
Module 3: Recognising the Pressures  In this module participants will examine the pressures they have been under due to the mental health problems of their family member or friend.
Module 4: Identifying/Acknowledging Stress  This module facilitates participants to recognise what stress is. It is relevant and useful for understanding that there are risks involved with being an informal carer.
Module 5: Loss & Grief Resolution  In this module participants will examine and discuss the particularly painful process which the informal family or friend carer of a person with a mental health problem will have to pass through
Module 6: Active Coping Skills  This module addresses some of the skills that informal carers have found useful when coping with mental health problems. Learning positive coping skills supports the challenges that many informal carers deal with.
Module 7: Advanced Coping skills  In this module, the group will continue and build on from what they have learnt in the last module. They will work on making advance with their coping skills which allows them to gain personal control of their lives.  
Module 8: Support Mapping  In this module the participants will explore their available support networks and identify what and who is in this network. Any person, resource, professional or organisation can be part of this network.  
Module 9: Change and goal setting  This module facilitates group members to explore the concept of personal change and to commit to this through establishing personal goals.  
Module 10: Conclusion, looking forward, new Prospects  In this session it is important to provide opportunities for group members to review the Training Programme and to check that they know where they are going. They should be able to identify the next steps they wish to take, no matter how “big” or “small” they may be.  

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Round Table on Mental Health Care at the Royal Palace in Brussels

The Belgian Queen Mathilde met with parents and experts during a round table meeting on mental health care on 8th February 2022.

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Effects of Cannabis on Teenagers’ Mental Health

Many parents are oblivious of just how dangerous cannabis can be for teenagers. In this article, Terry Hammond, a former EUFAMI Board member, provides compelling evidence that exposes these dangers.

To understand the effects of cannabis on teenagers it’s important to understand how this complex plant affects teenagers’ brains. Cannabis is made up of many chemicals. But the two key ones that affect the brain’s functioning are THC and CBD. THC is the chemical in cannabis that brings about the high and the feeling of euphoria. This is what gives users the buzz. CBD is the chemical that can provide therapeutic value, for example, pain relief. Criminal gangs have genetically modified cannabis, so it has higher levels of THC, so users get a greater mind-altering experience. These high THC levels can be highly dangerous, particularly for young people whose brains are still developing.

Studies have shown that over 90% of the drugs being sold on the streets today contain these higher levels of THC, which can be between 10% and 70%. In the 1960s, the THC levels were between 3 and 5%. Scientists have now proven beyond any reasonable doubt that high levels of THC currently contained in cannabis are causing many young people to develop long term mental health problems. Many are developing schizophrenia. One of the most compelling studies has been done in Europe, ’Cannabis Use and the Risk of Psychosis and Affective disorders’. It has shown that over 30% of all new cases of psychosis in parts of London have been directly linked to cannabis. In Amsterdam, it’s a staging 50%.

 In a report by Public Health England: ‘Young People’s Substance Misuse Treatment Statistics 2018/19’, 14,485 young people in the UK needed treatment for substance misuse; 88% of these young people in treatment reported that cannabis was the main problem, followed by 44% who said it was alcohol. This contradicts those young people who say that cannabis is safer than alcohol; it most definitely is not! A study in Canada of 3,826 young students (12 to 13) in 31 schools showed that cannabis use had a more lasting effect on a young person’s brain than alcohol. It was found that cannabis use can lead to a decline in learning ability, decision-making, and overall academic achievement, which can last into adulthood. The poor academic outcome has been linked to numerous studies linking cannabis use with a decline in the neurocognitive development of young teenagers’ brains. The outcome of this decline is that the brain does not develop to its full potential, hence the link with poorer academic achievement.

The science is now very clear: if young teenagers use cannabis monthly, weekly, or daily, they substantially increase the risk of damaging their brains; the more regularly they take it and the younger they are, the risk increases. By using cannabis, teenagers are playing Russian Roulette with their mental health. If cannabis caused premature baldness, then I suspect young people would run a mile from it. Because the impact on their health is less obvious, kids blindly use cannabis, oblivious to the very real dangers that could be awaiting them. If they cannot see the dangers, then we adults have a duty to protect young people from this dreadful modern scourge.

This article is an extract from Terry Hammond’s book ‘Gone To Pot – Cannabis: What Every Parent Needs To Know’. If you would like to know more about the impact cannabis is having on young teenagers and what you can do to protect your children, visit: www.terryhammond.org.uk

 

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Hearing Loss and Mental Health Campaign – #ListenUp

On 9th September 2021, the Hearing Health Forum EU, alongside the European Federation of Hard of Hearing People (EFHOH), the European Network for Workplace Health Promotion (ENWHP), the European Federation of Associations of Families of People with Mental Illness (EUFAMI), the European Association of Cochlear Implant Users (EURO-CIU), the European Community Mental Health Service Providers (EUCOMS) and the Global Alliance of Mental Illness Advocacy Networks-Europe (GAMIAN Europe), came together to discuss how to use their collective strength to put forward a campaign directed towards EU policymakers on the link between mental health, hearing loss and healthy ageing.

The workshop was divided into three sections:

Messaging: unify messaging on the link between hearing loss and healthy ageing, with an emphasis on the impact of untreated hearing loss on mental health in the older population.

Channels for engagement: identify effective strategies for engagement with health policy stakeholders in Brussels.

Creative campaign: develop a campaign theme to raise awareness in Brussels of the impact of untreated hearing loss on the mental health and well-being of Europe’s ageing population.

This document on Hearing Loss and Mental Health Campaign recaps key discussion and outlines next steps.

If you wish to be part of this campaign, we urge you to see here (English version), here (Spanish version) and here (German version) for further information on how to spread on the good word.

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