Silence isn’t Golden: Lending an Ear and Giving a Voice to Promote Policy Action on Mental Health (W5)

Mental health problems affect 38% of EU residents at some point during any given year and yet we are often ashamed to talk openly about this elephant in the room. This workshop began with the very personal and poignant story of Geraldine Niedersüß, a courageous mother of two sons whose lives were both lost due to severe mental illness. Philipp Niedersüß was the second son of Geraldine and she described him as a very bright, clever and sporty young man whose mental health battle began at the age of 11 years. Philipp’s sport teacher noticed that something was wrong as he rather suddenly became withdrawn and reserved. Nevertheless, Philipp’s first visit to the GP resulted in no diagnosis after a physical examination revealed that he was perfectly healthy. However, after Philipp returned home he was in a catatonic state and would sit at his desk for hours on end as his mother Geraldine tried to coax him and comfort him to speak about what was wrong. Finally after he said he was too confused to speak his mother took him to another doctor who said that Philipp was suffering from a classical depression but twenty-five years ago it was not common for children to be diagnosed with depression in Austria. Philipp was prescribed medication but its side effects caused him to have tummy aches and become even more withdrawn. Continue reading

When European health is going global (P3)

The closing session of the 2017 European Health Forum Gastein focused on “Global perspectives on Health in All Politics”. Strange, you might say, for a forum with “Europe” in its name! Then, after expanding health to all politics and all stakeholders, are we now supposed to expand to the whole world?

Without a doubt, answered the speakers. All members of the panel highlighted the great opportunity both the Sustainable Development Goals and the election of Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus – a former Minister of Health and Foreign Affairs – as the new Director-General of the World Health Organization, represent to promote health and global health in all politics.  Additionally, as Ilona Kickbusch, Director of the Global Health Centre at the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies, reminded us, other sectors and actors have already seized the opportunity of going global. She explained that the impact of global corporations and investors on health – starting with taxes and investments into lucrative yet very unhealthy goods – call for stronger global financial regulations and discussions. With the example of civil society capacity building, Wanjiku Kamau, Executive Director of Advocacy Accelerator in Kenya, also explains that both the North and the South share similar challenges – thus calling for shared policy response. Continue reading

Health Futures in a post-truth world (F7)

Health Futures in a post truth world? – How today shapes tomorrow     

‘In the nineteenth century health was transformed by clear, clean water. In the twenty-first century, health will be transformed by clean clear knowledge’ (Sir Muir Gray).

The European Health Forum Gastein invited conference participants to a two part workshop on Health Futures in a post-truth world. At first, the session discussed the impact of fake news, conspiracy, alternative facts and false news on health.

Participants were asked – “Has the post-truth reality already intruded into your world, either social life or professional environment?  – The majority answered yes, to both. Continue reading

Person-centred care models – Changing mindsets for radical co-creation (W7)

Problems fascinate, but solutions engage
A poem on Workshop 7, Co-creating health to meet local needs

A two-hour workshop at the end of a week
After legions of sessions, people and ice cubes
Is something to make the strongest man meek
And thus attended, mostly, only by noobes
But the European Health Forum has given occasions
To let common wisdom clash with surprise
And conference-end workshops exceed expectations
For I’ve just attended a gem in disguise!

The first impression would make anyone weary
Flip-overs and gadgets for group activity
It made my sleep-deprived eyes almost teary
Realizing this would be a form of captivity
Where we would reiterate the same old stories
Of stakeholders, collaboration and need for innovation
The usual public health vocab repositories
That never manages to leave any station!

Continue reading

Social inclusion, work & health (W8)

How to avoid Social Exclusion ?

By- Lucinda Cash-Gibson (Young Gasteiner) and Débora Silves Ferreira (Comunidade Médica de Língua Portuguesa)

Given the amount of time you spend at work, how do you think work affects your health?” – This was the initial question posed to the session participants – the majority of whom voted that it negatively affects their health.

The issue of social exclusion was discussed in the context of the new European Pillar of Social Rights – which sets out a number of key principles and rights to support fair and well-functioning labour markets and welfare systems, and has three main pillar categories: Equal opportunities and access to labour market; fair working conditions; social protection and inclusion. Continue reading