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The conclusions from the Lithuanian Presidency conference on “Mental health: challenges and possibilities” (October, 2013) identified the urgent need to address mental health challenges by actions that are evidence based, efficient, and sensitive to the need and cultures of countries and their population groups.

Challenges and recommended actions

Intersectoral dimension and the need to adequately address promotion and prevention. It is recommended to strengthen mental health promotion and mental disorder prevention throughout life by actions through healthcare systems and in partnership with relevant non-health sectors which build resilience; strengthen protective factors and reduce risk factors; create healthy life environments; are gender-sensitive; and have a particular focus on the young and vulnerable groups.

Addressing inequalities, social inclusion and participation in learning and labour markets. It is recommended to provide mental health services that are accessible and affordable, available in the community according to need, equipped with a competent general and specialised workforce and make use of the potential of e-Health; and to promote the social inclusion of people with mental health problems, their success in learning and their access to and participation in labour markets.

The treatment gap – Only half the people affected by mental disorders are treated. While some progress was made in the implementation of community-based mental health care, vast amount of services are not accessible, acceptable, effective and affordable. While research recommends a broad spectrum of biomedical and psychosocial interventions, including web-based technologies; effective psychosocial interventions are often not available or affordable; especially for children and adolescents in need and other population groups, which are particularly strongly exposed to the consequences of the crisis. It is recommended to strengthen the mental health literacy of citizens, in particular children, and enable them to take care of their mental health;

Human rights – Across the EU, conditions of care in hospitals and residential settings have been shed light on, but there are still places where people with mental disorders and disabilities are cared for in large institutions, without choice or opportunities for social inclusion. It is recommended to empower people with mental health problems and their carers, promote their rights and put an end to their discrimination and stigmatisation;

Workforce and carers – Across the EU many countries are struggling to develop a general and specialist workforce in sufficient numbers and that is adequately trained to offer effective mental health and well-being interventions that meet the needs and expectations of the affected population. Regional disparities, in particular between urban and rural areas, and outward migration of mental health professionals cause additional challenges. The essential role of informal carers is often not sufficiently recognised.

– Lack of consistent information and research gaps. It is recommended to improve the understanding of mental health and illness and information about the mental health status of the population.

Several actions are suggested for the EU member states and the European Commission to be taken up.

Lithuanian Presidency conference “Mental health: Challenges and Possibilities” Conclusions; Vilnius, Lithuania, October 10-11, 2013

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