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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EUFAMI’s 30th Anniversary

This year marks 30 years since EUFAMI was founded in 1992 with the aim of bringing together mental health and family carer associations from across Europe.

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The Prospect Plus Project Phase II – Press Statement

The Prospect Project is a peer-to-peer training programme designed by EUFAMI to empower families in mental health.

EUFAMI is very pleased to announce that the collaborative partnership with Johnson & Johnson Foundation formed in 2019, will continue.

Earlier this year, the Prospect Plus project successfully completed the first phase and produced the revised Prospect Family and Friends Training Programme. This was accomplished with a project partnership of 6 EUFAMI member organisations who worked on, and invaluably contributed to, updating and revising the original content and materials from 2004.

The EUFAMI Acting President, André Decraene has commented that:

“Prospect is a growing European community and with our collaborative partnership with the Johnson & Johnson Foundation, EUFAMI hopes to support its growth and outreach to all family and friend carers”

The second phase of the Prospect Plus project is more ambitious. Over the next 2 years, EUFAMI will lead the updating process of the Prospect Training Program for People with Self-Experience, the Prospect training for Health and Social Care Professional and the Common Ground Module. This is an essential step for the Prospect Training Programmes as a whole.

The second phase of the Prospect Plus project will also develop and create a digital platform to support present and future EUFAMI members who implement Prospect.

For this ambitious phase, EUFAMI is very happy to have once again, Gwen Crawford, as the project leader. Commenting on the launch, Gwen said:

 “I am delighted to form part of the EUFAMI team, and it is a privilege to take on this next phase of the Prospect Plus project”

The work on this phase has already commenced. Updates on the process will be posted on the EUFAMI website and social media.

For further information on Prospect and Prospect Plus, please see here.

For background information, please feel free to contact Gwen Crawford via email: projects@eufami.org

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OECD- Well-being and Mental Health – Towards an integrated policy approach 6-9 December 2021

We are pleased to inform you that the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) will be hosting a series of online events on Well-being and Mental Health – Towards an integrated policy approach.

This four-day virtual conference will take place from 6-9 December 2021 and follow the recent OECD publication of A New Benchmark for Mental Health Systems: Tackling the Social and Economic Costs of Mental Ill-Health. The events will explore the interrelationships between mental health and people’s economic, social, environmental and relational well-being. Experts and key stakeholders will take stock of existing work on the social determinants of population mental health, consider measurement challenges and examine lessons learned from integrated policy approaches so far.

These events mark the start of a new OECD project applying a well-being lens to population mental health, drawing on the different economic, social, environmental and relational dimensions of people’s lives highlighted by the OECD’s Well-being Framework, and building on synergies with the whole-of-government approaches to well-being now under development in a number of countries. The events will take stock of existing work that considers the multidimensional drivers and social determinants of mental health; further develop measures of population mental health status; and examine what lessons can be learned from the integrated policy approaches to mental health promotion that have been put into practice so far. It is organised by the OECD Centre for Well-Being, Inclusion, Sustainability and Equal Opportunity (WISE) together with the Directorate for Employment, Labour and Social Affairs (ELS).

The agenda of the online events can be found here and you are invited to register and attend, if you are interested, by clicking here.

 

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In Memoriam – Hildegunt Schütt

The relatives’ movement in Germany mourns Hildegunt Schütt, who died on November 1, 2021, at the age of 95 in Bonn.

Ms Schütt, who actually studied music and later worked in nursing, first came into contact with mental health in the 1970s. As an EEG assistant in a neurologist’s practice, she had an insight into the inadequacies of psychiatric care. When one of her children fell ill, she experienced a brutal reality as a relative. German mental health of this time – as the psychiatrist Heinz Häfner puts it – was “morally, professionally and materially bankrupt”. In 1970 the federal government convened a commission of experts on the state of psychiatry under the leadership of Professors Häfner and Caspar Kulenkampff. The reform that was introduced was slow to get underway and against much opposition. And the reform was a project by psychiatry professionals. Those affected – the sick themselves and their relatives – had no voice in it.

Hildegunt Schütt was one of the first who refused to accept this, who was not intimidated by real or supposed expertise, who countered the alleged professional necessities with a critical understanding and philanthropy. She was encouraged by the spirit of awakening in society that had been felt since the student revolt in 1968. What should prevent the relatives from speaking up and contributing their interests to the reform process?

In 1980 the association “Help for the mentally ill” was founded, one of the first relatives’ associations in the Federal Republic of Germany. This gave the relatives a forum for mutual support and advice. At the same time, the association wanted to act as a motor for the concrete improvement of assistance on site. Therefore, it was necessary to initiate new offers of care in self-help to remedy the deficiencies of mental health. Hildegunt Schütt herself took on the organisational and professional responsibility for setting up an “external work training”, a completely new idea, because the needs of mentally ill people were unknown to the welfare authorities as they were all sent to workshops for mentally handicapped people. This offer nowadays has 48 publicly funded training places. The “external work training” did not only have a positive effect on the participants but by personally addressing employers from a wide variety of industries, a network of help for the mentally ill emerged, which has proven to be highly effective in the fight against prejudice and stigmatisation.

In 1982 the book “Acquittal of the Family” by Klaus Dörner, Albrecht Egetmeyer and Konstanze Koenning was published, which gave the relatives movement in the FRG an enormous boost. Hildegunt Schütt played an essential part in the endeavor to bring together the relatives’ initiatives and associations that had arisen in various places in the FRG. So, it is not surprising that when the Federal Association of Members of Mentally Ill People was founded (today: Bundesverband der Angehörigen psychisch erkrankter Menschen – BapK – e.V.) she was elected first chairwoman in 1985 and held this office for eight years. Then she accepted the proposed office of honorary chairman.

Typical of Hildegunt Schütt was her ability to bring people from different areas together and to motivate them to act together. Consequently, in 1992 she took part in the founding meeting of the European Association of Families of Mentally Ill People – EUFAMI – in Leuven / Belgium and signed the founding document for the BApK.

Hildegunt Schütt has received numerous awards for her voluntary work, including the Rotary Club Bonn Prize (2004), the Rhenanian Prize for Social Commitment from the Rhineland Regional Association (2007), the Else Mayer Foundation Prize (2011), the honorary prize of the Christian democrats in Bonn in recognition for her committed voluntary work (2011) and the Sebastian Dani Medal of the social democratic parliamentary group in the Bonn City Council (2014).

Hildegunt Schütt took part in the activities of the associations she founded or initiated until her old age. She had an open ear for everyone, was able to give advice and encourage people. It was only the restrictions on public life caused by the Covid-19 pandemic that set limits to their work.

The importance of Hildegunt Schütt’s work for family self-help in German mental health can hardly be over-estimated. With her alert attention, her courage, her tireless creativity and warm, compassionate humanity, she has stood up for the cause of the weakest in our society. Anyone who was lucky enough to meet her personally will keep her winning smile in their memory forever. She has created an enormous work that will give protection and help to generations of people in distress.

Hildegunt Schütt leaves behind 8 children, 18 grandchildren and 13 great-grandchildren.

Friedrich Leidinger

EUFAMI Secretary

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The Value of Caring Survey – Findings and Recommendations

EUFAMI and the Department of Health Policy of the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) are pleased to inform that the 2-year research study on the Value of Caring is completed and the resources are publicly available.

EUFAMI’s ‘Caring4Carers’ survey found that the majority of informal caregivers are women, caring for a son or daughter and spending an average of 22 hours a week in caregiving activities. The stress placed in informal caregivers can be significant. Approximately 40 per cent report worrying about their own physical health, with nearly 1/3 fearing that their role as a caregiver detrimentally impacts their physical health. The caregiver’s mental health may also be at risk: nearly 1 in 3 feel depressed. In addition to health stress comes financial stress and social isolation. This culminates in a sizeable tie investment, equivalent to a job, however often without adequate support structures.

The Value of Caring is a project which builds on our Caring4Carers survey by looking at how unpaid (informal) care provided by family members and other unpaid carers is an important element of any mental health system, yet too often these contributions are not fully recognised or appreciated. Policy-makers are unlikely to be aware of the extent of the cost if they had to replace all of this ‘informal’ care with formal mental health services and support.

EUFAMI, in collaboration with the London School of Economics, is looking to obtain credible evidence on the economic contribution of family/informal carers of persons with severe mental ill health (in particular schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and major depression) in order to share with policy-makers at European and national level and encourage investment in caring for carers, i.e investment in policies and services which support family/informal carers and strengthen joint advocacy activities EUFAMI undertakes with other NGOs.

Please, find here the resource documents relevant to the research study in English, German, French, Spanish, Finnish and Dutch:

Value of Caring – Full Report

Cost of Caring – Background Information

Cost of Caring – Background Information – Spreads

Cost of Caring – Research Study – Findings -English

Cost of Caring – Research Study – Recommendations – English

Cost of Caring – Research Study – Findings – German

Cost of Caring – Research Study – Recommendations – German

Cost of Caring – Research Study – Findings – French

Cost of Caring – Research Study – Recommendations – French

Cost of Caring – Research Study – Findings – Spanish

Cost of Caring – Research Study – Recommendations – Spanish

Cost of Caring – Research Study – Findings- Finnish

Cost of Caring – Research Study – Recommendations – Finnish

Cost of Caring – Research Study – Findings – Dutch

Cost of Caring – Research Study – Recommendations – Dutch

Cost of Caring – Calculator

Calculator – Guide

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