On 27 April, EUREGHA held a seminar on the topic “Mental health in the young: Good practice and new initiatives” at Skåne European Office. During the event, participants had the opportunity to hear from and discuss with representatives from European and regional level initiatives.

Claudia Marinetti (EuroHealthNet) introduced the EU Compass, an initiative introduced by the European Commission to exchange policies and practices in Member States and nongovernmental actors. EU Compass is led by Trimbos Institute (NL) and builds on the outcomes of the European-funded Joint Action on Mental Health and Wellbeing (2013 – 2016). In 2016, thematic papers and yearly reports of good practices collected under the EU Compass focused on the prevention of depression; promotion of resilience; and provision of more accessible mental health services.

Alva Finn from Mental Health Europe (MHE), the largest umbrella organisation working on mental health at the EU level, briefed about the activities of MHE and walked the audience through statistics and some of the most important publications and legislation concerning youth mental health. Adocare report compares all EU Member States in the prevalence of the mental health problems and provision of treatment. MHE are pushing against a biomedical understanding of mental health towards psychosocial approach. Recognising that stigma is one of the biggest barriers to seeking help, MHE has launched an Anti-stigma campaign.

Charlotte Lindqvist, Region Östergötland (SE), presented the working of the regional “Youth Health Centres”. The centres were established in the 1980s, at the time primarily focusing on reproductive health. Over the years, the centres gradually increased their services span, adding psychosocial activities, such as talk therapies. The goal of the Youth Health Centres is to promote physical and psychological health based on high accessibility and sensitivity, taking adolescents seriously and making them feel safe. Examples of tasks include sexual health counselling, lifestyle talks, medical lab tests, LGBT questions, relationship problems, low self-esteem issues, etc.

Anja Nyberg and Thilia Nyberg presented the podcast ‘It’s ok’ that is currently used in Region Skåne (SE). Sick leave is increasing among the young, with some main diagnoses being depression, fatigue and stress. The podcast “It’s ok” was developed as a way of reaching out to young people about these issues and to hear from their own experiences. In total four podcast programmes were produced with two to three participants (18 – 30 years old). Discussions centred around the topics: 1) Why do we feel ill? 2) Drugs and alcohol 3) Suicide 4) Why do young adults feel ill?

Fanya Verhenne, from the Flemish Institute for Health promotion and Disease prevention (BE) presented two practices: the NokNok online web tool for youngsters and Warm cities – both focused on building resilience in adolescents and children. The philosophy behind NokNok is that “mental health is something that can be trained”. A very visual website gives access to information about common mental health problems and tips how to cope with them, you can further fill a personal mood diary and find activities with youth organisations. Warm cities intends to create actions to promote mental health through a community-based life cycle approach, identifying and responding to needs of persons in different situations, such as as a toddler in day care; a child with different cultural background; a teen who is bullied, etc. In 2019, five Flemish cities will have developed an integrative approach to improve mental wellbeing in children and the young (0 – 24 yrs.).

Examples of EU Compass good practices collected in 2016 can be accessed here. To submit your good practice for evaluation, please follow this link. More information is available in the EU Compass newsletter.