October 1 to 10 are the 10 Mental Health Days. Psychological vulnerability and psychological well-being are then highlighted. This is necessary. The media confronts us every day with alarming reports and figures. In our opinion, care for psychological well-being should be more accessible, more relevant and more focused on people’s strengths.
In mobilizing to address growing waiting lists and increase access to mental health care, we see a federal government providing more psychiatric beds and psychiatrists with resources from the Social Security Fund, whether in a residential setting or not. But the focus on professional help, in our opinion, perpetuates the myth that psychological problems can only be treated by specialists. Or medications are used whether prescribed or not. This leads to overconsumption with often harmful side effects and high social costs.
In fact, according to the hard work group Zorg om Zorg van Hart boven, mental health recovery requires practices in which health care providers and care recipients approach each other in an equal relationship. Differences must also be welcomed and empirical knowledge must be able to play an important role. By recognizing everyone’s psychological vulnerability, the stigma surrounding psychiatric care can disappear, and at the same time profound psychological suffering can be taken seriously – hopefully, without waiting lists and with the necessary care for loved ones.
We also note that there are already all kinds of accessible initiatives in many different places in Flanders where people with psychological problems can go. This ranges from recovery cafés to mobile care teams, attendance centres, peer groups, integration initiatives such as shelters or care neighbourhoods, in neighborhood projects or associations… They are of invaluable importance in today’s society, which we believe is misplaced. Priorities and can prevent the worst. By promoting and connecting these initiatives, we can help people feel supported by a wide range of society. They also help complement the existing strong focus on individualized care pathways and, where necessary, can support people in their search for more targeted care.
We believe it is important for professional experts to focus on supporting accessible social initiatives and grassroots workers and to work with them in a mutually reinforcing movement. The Flemish government already makes a limited contribution by supporting such initiatives, but we believe that further support and expansion of this policy is necessary. We also ask for different funding in mental health care, ensuring that prevention and collaboration in wellbeing and health become a matter of course. We realize that a fixed payment system as in community health centers makes collaboration and prevention easier and can contribute to reducing costs.
As a citizens’ movement, we would like to call for a 10 Days of Mental Health Care policy that provides advanced and accessible preventive care for well-being and health, where committed professionals support each other in service of vulnerable people, groups and a warm community.
We ask the responsible ministers to take joint initiatives in this regard. We also ask political parties to be inspired by our vision when designing their party programs.