Mental Healthcare Needs More Funding and Attention in Belgium
What do you do within the mental health Belgian ecosystem?
About 15 years ago I started delivering peer-to-peer support in the region of Leuven within Ups & Downs. After a few years, I extended these activities to the region North of Antwerp. Currently, I am a board member of Ups & Downs, active as a member of OpGanG– an organisation operating under the umbrella of VPP (the Flemish patients’ platform)- and representing the patients with mental health illness. In these positions I work on the topic of chronic diseases, focusing on the rights of the patients, the importance of mental healthcare, and fighting stigma and taboo. We need to generate more openness about mental healthcare in society.
What’s the situation of mental healthcare in Belgium today?
Mental healthcare is still considered a very small sibling of physical healthcare, which means that it gets insufficient attention and budget.
Where do you see it heading in the future?
Depression and mental illness will get into the top three of the most frequent chronic diseases. We have to anticipate this and work on early detection, prevention, and treatment.
Which changes would you like to see happening?
More acceptance in our society, which will already help to prevent and reduce the burden (financial, emotional…). People should talk more about it, facilitating recovery via community care.
What would you recommend the participants of Hack Healthcare to focus on?
They should focus on an easy-to-access data platform, user-friendly, understandable, and with truthful information. Persons with mental health issues often are unsure or cannot take much time on finding out what is done with their personal data.
What would you like to see coming out of Hack Healthcare
I would like to see the first right and well-defined steps towards the development of a high-quality health data platform.
The Global Alliance of Mental Illness Advocacy Networks-Europe (GAMIAN-Europe) is a non-profit patient-driven pan-European organisation, representing and advocating for the interests and rights of persons affected by mental ill-health. Their main activities include awareness-raising, education, and partnership, and capacity building. Overarching themes in their work relate to anti-stigma, discrimination, and patients’ rights.