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

The discussion was focused on the importance of the support provided by parents and families to the patients, in addition to the care provided by medical services. The necessity to provide the parents and families with recognition, support and adequate training was also highlighted.

The delegation was led by EUFAMI’s Acting President Mr André Decraene and consisted of two EUFAMI Board Directors, Ms Emmanuelle Rémond (UNAFAM) and Dr Friedrich Leidinger (BApK). The delegates were accompanied by two family representatives working as volunteers in a mobile team of health professionals, as experiential experts in government committees and as trainers in peer support programs (Mich Jonckheere and Geneviève d’Hoop). The team also consisted of a researcher on genetics (Prof. Dr S. Claes) and a policy adviser on the organisation of mental health care (Prof. C. Van Audenhove).

The delegates highlighted the immense challenges for the families, amongst others:

  • to understand the nature of the illness and the impact on their lives
  • to develop skills in dealing with professional carers (e.g. lack of useful information)
  • to cope with the increased risk of loneliness, sickness, loss of opportunities to develop a professional career and their own skills
  • to give appropriate support to their beloved relatives

Queen Mathilde, who is a Psychology graduate and had exercised her profession prior to her marriage, advocates for the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and is a promoter of Mental Health at all levels. She is particularly interested in the needs and challenges of the families of people who have been affected by mental ill health and the impact this has had on the quality of life of their parents and extended family.

Picture by © Koninklijk Paleis, België/Palais Royal, Belgique/Königlicher Palast, Belgien/Royal Palace, Belgium