WHO Conference on Mental Health Helsinki 12-15 January
Helsinki 12 Jan.: The subject of this ministerial conference is a crucial one. The burden of disease and the weight of taboo pushed us into holding the conference," Dr Marc Danzon, the WHO Regional Director for Europe, told journalists at the opening of the WHO European Ministerial Conference on Mental Health being held in Helsinki.
The most appropriate word is taboo and we hope that we will be able to take this taboo surrounding mental problems away and instead bring training and the development of mental health services."
The Finnish Minister of Health and Social Services Liisa Hyssälä said that a decade ago it would not have been possible to hold the conference but that now there was a broad discussion nationally and internationally on the significance of mental health in people's lives.
Mental health is an important aspect of public health, as the expert interventions at this conference clearly demonstrate."
Robert Madelin, Director General for Health and Social Protection at the European Commission, drew attention to the fact that EU countries lose between 3-5% of their GDP due to the toll of mental health problems among the population.
It is possible for Europe to do better," he said. Every year tens of thousands of Europeans die due to self-harm brought on by mental health problems. The reason why we are not acting enough is because of ignorance and fear. The gap between the declaration of this conference and change cannot be bridged by an event such as this conference alone, but only by society - and ever part of society has a role to play."
Alexander Vladychenko, Director General at the Council of Europe's Directorate General on Social Cohesion said that the final declaration of the conference incorporates the major legal instruments of the Council of Europe.
The Council of Europe focuses on human rights, which has a special relevance in the area of mental health. Last year, we started work on the human rights of people with mental health problems. We are working with the WHO on this and will develop activities during this year."
Vappu Taipale of the Finnish National Research and Development Centre for Welfare and Health drew attention to the fact that all countries need to develop their work on mental health.
At first we had a serious consultation about whether our own situation in Finland is so good that we can raise the issue. But we then realised that there are no model countries. Even the richest and the poorest of countries have difficulties."