European Mental Health Promotion Educational Programmes
Promotion of Mental Health may be considered as one of the first line needs of global societies for the next decade. As reported by the World Health Organization, by the year 2020, depression is expected to be the highest ranking disease in the developed world and mental disorders may become one of the most common causes of premature death. They may, in general, account for the 15% of disability and enormously increase the direct or indirect economic costs of health care services worldwide.
Promotion of Mental Health, by definition, refers to the development of mental health skills and attitudes of humans in order to reach their potential for improving, protecting and maintaining their mental health and quality of life. In clinical medical terms, Promotion of Mental Health refers to the need for the management of the patient as a ‘healthy ill’ person and not as the recipient of an illness.
Education of the public, as mentioned in the proposed "Green Paper" (“Improving the mental health of the population: towards a strategy on mental health for the European Union”), submitted by the Commissioner of Public Health of E.U, M. Kyprianou (2005), has been considered as crucial for reasons associated with both public health scopes and the needs of each individual. It can help awareness of the high prevalence of mental disorders, as well as awareness of the need for their early recognition and treatment. Avoidance of stigmatization and discrimination can also be promoted by education of various sectors in the community.
Mental Health Promotion Educational Programmes may, therefore, focus on the specialized training of health professionals and of key community agents who can convey the appropriate messages and contribute to the promotion of mental health in the community.
The implementation of educational programmes focusing to empower various groups who are directly or indirectly involved in mental health, (such as politicians, diplomats, mass media professionals, non psychiatric health professionals, judges, police and military officers, educators, the clergy etc), to early recognize and minimize risk factors as well to contribute to the improvement of environmental and sociocultural health determinants, can be considered as quite essential in order to promote positive aspects of mental health and early detection of mental disorders.
In order for the first line aims of Mental Health Promotion to be achieved in Europe, the Department of Psychiatry of Athens University in collaboration with the Section of Primary Care Mental Health, Institute of Psychiatry, University of London, and the Educational Trust for Health Improvement through Cognitive Strategies (E.T.H.I.C.S) have started since 2002 to carry out educational programmes targeting to meet the needs and to reflect the emerging educational principles of Mental Health Promotion. Most of these programmes have been derived from the field of A.P.H (Axiological Promotion of Health), copyrighted by E.T.H.I.C.S -2003, and then adapted to the sociocultural conditions of the country of implementation (Greece).
For the Academic year 2005 – 2006 the structure and content of the on-going Mental Health Promotion Educational Programmes were adapted by Prof. V. Tomaras, Prof. M. Malliori and Lecturer M. Kokkosi, with the coordination of Prof. K. Soldatos, Head of the Psychiatric Department, Athens University. Tutors have been selected among the academic staff of the Department of Psychiatry and from the broader field of Mental Health experts as well.
Dr. M.S. Vassiliadou