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Sign of progress or confusion? A commentary on the European Commission Green Paper on mental health

  • Stefan Priebe (a1)
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This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC-BY) license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
References
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European Commission (2005) Green Paper. Improving the Mental Health of the Population. Towards a Strategy on Mental Health for the European Union. Brussels: European Commission.
Priebe, S. (2004) Psychiatry in the future. Where is mental healthcare going? A European perspective. Psychiatric Bulletin, 28, 315316.
Priebe, S. (2005) Why compare mental health care in European capitals? European Psychiatry, 20 (suppl. 2), S265S300.
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BJPsych Bulletin
  • ISSN: 0955-6036
  • EISSN: 1472-1473
  • URL: /core/journals/bjpsych-bulletin
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Sign of progress or confusion? A commentary on the European Commission Green Paper on mental health

  • Stefan Priebe (a1)
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eLetters

We should support the EC Green Paper.

Martin Elphick, Consultant Psychiatrist
31 August 2006

The recent editorial by Professor Stefan Priebe (Psychiatric Bulletin, August 2006, 30, 281-282) asks whether the European Community Green Paper on Mental Health is a ‘Sign of Progress or Confusion?’. It isa manifest sign of political progress and as such has been welcomed by theCollege (Royal College of Psychiatrists, 2006).

To avoid confusion, we must remember that the purpose of the Green Paper was to begin consultation for a future strategy. It is premature toexpect ‘achievable priorities and specific ideas’ at this stage, and off-the-peg solutions will not suit the different member states anyway. As first steps a platform for exchanging expertise; greater coherence betweeninformation, research and policy; inclusion of MH in the Framework Programme for research funding; and a more uniform approach to human rights seem to be realistic and valuable.

We must also understand the scope of responsibility of the EC, which includes health promotion, prevention, and information, but not provision of healthcare services. Hence the use of the broad WHO terminology for ‘mental ill health’, and the emphasis upon a wide sweep of problems many of which should not be considered as illnesses. Promotion of mental well-being necessitates collaboration between policy makers from health, economics, housing, immigration, criminal justice, employment and other departments (Muijen, 2006). The aspiration is indeed to create a foundation for action within political and commissioning circles – not, asis implied in the editorial, to treat people who are not ill.

Priebe’s reservations seem to result from confusion between the case made in the Green Paper for widespread promotion of mental wellbeing and prevention of disorders, and the specialised need for good treatment for those with established conditions. There is potentially a huge amount to be gained from this initiative, by millions of ordinary members of the public, service users, carers, clinicians and even by academics and researchers (Jane-Llopis and McDaid, 2005). A little subjective confusiondoes sometimes precede a new insight, but that is surely no great problem?

JANE-LLOPIS, E., and McDAID, D. (2005) Promoting Mental Health in Europe. Eurohealth, 11, 9-10.

MUIJEN, M. (2006) Challenges for Psychiatry: Delivering the Mental Health Declaration for Europe. World Psychiatry, 5:2, 113-7.

ROYAL COLLEGE OF PSYCHIATRISTS (2006). http://www.rcpsych.ac.uk/pressparliament/aspx

Martin Elphick Consultant Psychiatrist, Avon and Wilts Partnership Trust, Green Lane Hospital, Devizes, SN10 5DS, email: martin.elphick@awp.nhs.uk

Declaration of Interest: None.
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Conflict of interest: None Declared

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