When the mental health programme of the World Health Organization (WHO) Regional Office for Europe was ‘resurrected’ in 1999, a review of the situation in the European Region of the WHO provided a surprisingly diverse picture. In this Region, which stretches from Greenland to Malta, from Ireland to Kamchatka, dramatic differences were noted in life expectancy and suicidality, income, housing, employment and social cohesion, as well as services, social support, human rights and the accessibility of basic care. In many societies, stigma and discrimination effectively excluded the mentally vulnerable from society and its basic services. Stigmatisation also hindered early intervention, rehabilitation and reintegration into society (WHO Regional Office for Europe, 1999, 2001).
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