GGZ Nederland is the sector organisation of specialist mental health and addiction care providers in the Netherlands. The aim of GGZ Nederland and its member organisations is to ensure the availability of high quality, accessible, affordable and sustainable mental health care. More than 100 member organisations deliver a wide variety of valuable services to the public, ranging from mental health promotion, prevention and primary mental health care to assisted independent living, sheltered housing, ambulatory specialist mental health care, clinical psychiatric and forensic institutional care.
By Chris Nas
On September 3rd, GGZ Nederland launched the European Alliance for Mental Health in all Policies together with the European Association of Paritarian Institutions (AEIP), the International Association of Mutual Benefit Societies (AIM), the European Public Health Alliance (EPHA) and Mental Health Europe (MHE).
GGZ Nederland took the initiative after publication of the OECD Report “Sick on the Job: Myths and Realities about Mental Health and Work” in 2012. Although the report produced overwhelming evidence about the impact of ill mental health, nothing substantial happened. A comprehensive and inspiring plan of action to improve mental health policies was lacking completely. On the contrary, in the European Semester some Country Specific Recommendations even had a negative impact on the mental health status in several member states.
Mental health is an asset for our economy, instead of a burden on Member States’ budgets. At the same time, the EU indicates that the total costs of work-related mental health diseases and conditions in the EU27 are nearly € 610 billion per year:
- the employers due to absenteeism and presenteeism (€ 270 billion)
- the economy in terms of lost output (€ 240 billion)
- the healthcare systems due to treatment costs (€ 60 billion)
- the social welfare systems due to disability benefit payments (€ 40 billion)
So mental ill health is not only a medical problem, it is also a huge social and economic problem. Moreover, this problem will not disappear without coordinated action. Therefore, we are engaging with partners outside the traditional domains of mental health care such as clients, professionals and providers. We also want to connect to stakeholders from other parts of society, like social insurers, businesses, trade unions, educational organisations, local authorities and of course public health.
All partners of the Alliance are committed to jointly promote and improve mental health in Europe. The main points of joint actions are directed towards the EU. The EU should identify the impact of policies (especially CSR’s) on mental health. Also, the EU and its member states should work towards a European Implementation Program for Mental Health to bridge the existing treatment gap.
Apart from these joint actions, the partners in the Alliance are also committed to work on mental health with their own members. The first example is AEIP. For AEIP, mental health is now explicitly part of every agenda that concerns health. This is a significant change, as for example the working group on Construction was not used to discuss mental health. A member of AIM shared its long-term experiences with mental health promotion for clients in an agricultural setting with the working group Construction. I hope that with an impact on policies in Occupational Safety and Health.
The members of the working group “Health promotion and disease management” of AIM have decided to assess the impact of the relation between mental and physical health. This assessment will increase awareness within the members of AIM on the financial risks of untreated mental ill health and the need to invest in mental health promotion.
- To access the statement of the Alliance “Mental health: boost for economic recovery in Europe Towards a European Implementation Program for Mental Health”, click here
- To access the “European Alliance on Mental Health in All Policies Action plan 2015 – 2016”, click here
- More information on GGZ Nederland is available here
Chris works as a senior policy adviser for GGZ Nederland. With an academic background in Medicine and Policy Sciences, he works in the health sector for 25 years now in various roles as project manager, policy adviser and management consultant. Apart from analysing mental health care policies in Europe (EU, WHO, OECD) he has been writing reports and articles on Dutch mental health care with special attention to the benefits of accessible and affordable mental health care for the European economy, (social) return on investment, performance assessment and specific flagship initiatives in the Netherlands (e-Health, outcome measurement).