7.5 Mental health
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Flemish Action Plan on Mental Health
The sixth State Reform and the growing demand for health have led to the decision of the Flemish Minister of Welfare, Public Health and family to develop a new Flemish Action Plan on Mental Health (Vlaams Actieplan Geestelijke gezondheid).
The Flemish Action Plan on Mental Health, that will cover 2017-2019, focuses mainly on strategies of prevention and the early detection of psychological problems. Specific attention is paid to children and young people. A target group within the youth population are those who slip through the net and have specific needs and requirements. The action plan focuses on the following actions:
programme 'Early detection and intervention' for children and young people
primary care psychology
therapists for young people
highly intelligent young people
self-care for young people and vulnerable young people
The actions of the action plan are realised within the budgetary framework of the Ministry of Welfare, Public Health and Family. The budget allocated to the action plan is two million euro.
The actions of the action plan are realised within the budgetary framework of the Ministry of Welfare, Public Health and Family. The budget allocated to the action plan is two million euros.
A new long-term Action Plan on Mental Health has not yet been developed. However, during the corona health crisis in 2020, an Action Plan Mental Health Care for Tomorrow (Zorgen voor morgen) has been implemented to cater to the increasing mental health problems related to the pandemic, for which 25.585.000 euro has been provided in 2020. It aims to provide both long- and short-term solutions for the psychosocial effects of the corona health crisis, with a focus on prevention.
Flemish Action Plan on Integrity
A Flemish Action Plan ('Vlaams Actieplan Integriteit Minderjarigen') to improve and protect the physical, psychological and sexual integrity of minors in youth care, child care, education, youth work and the sport sector is launched at 29 January, 2016. It is a collaboration between the Ministers of Youth, Welfare, Work and Education. The goal is to work together to prevent and address violence on children and young people.
The key points are:
Creating a learning- and living environment in which children and young people can develop physically, psychologically and sexually. The idea is that children and young people grow into persons that can deal with their peers, friends and all the other actors in school, the youth- and sport sector and the institutions in which children and young people reside in a positive, respectful and responsible manner.
Rejecting all violations of the integrity of children and young people.
Children and young people have to be protected against all forms of violence. Therefore, it is important that the debate about this is kept going and that situations of violence are effectively addressed.
Children and young people who are the victims of violence have to find appropriate assistance. Thereby, working together with children and young people is needed to find constructive and lasting solutions.
Flemish Parliament Integrated Youth Care Act
Integrated Youth Care is a cross-sectoral policy programme of the Flemish government. It aims to establish a coordinated approach to help troubled young people and their relatives. The clients face multi-problem situations (e.g. bad family situation, skipping school, mental issues, etc.) that require a multi-faceted care strategy. The institutional makeup of the care (health, welfare, education) landscape in Flanders, however, is relatively fragmented and characterised by strong (sub-) sectors.
On 1 March, 2014 the Integrated Youth Care Act came into force. This act entails a far-reaching cooperation between all anchors sectors involved in youth. The main objective is that every young person with a problem finds as quick as possible the appropriate help. This renewed act puts the young central. The inherent strength of children and young people and their immediate surroundings are considered the main source of assistance. The act anchors this principle and translates it into practical assistance to all amenities.
Flemish Action Plan on suicide prevention
In the Flemish Region, the health objective suicide and the related Flemish Action Plan on Suicide Prevention were adopted on 7 September 2012 (Vlaams Actieplan voor preventie van zelfdoding 2012-2020). The Flemish Action Plan on suicide prevention (2012-2020) of the Agency Health and Care consists of five strategies:
mental health promotion regarding the individual and society
suicide prevention through a telephone helpline and online support
improving expertise and network formation among intermediaries
strategies for specific risk groups
development and implementation of recommendations and resources for suicide prevention
For the period 2014-2020, the budget of the Flemish Government allocated to the Flemish Action Plan on Suicide Prevention (2012-2020) is 3100000 euros. The Flemish Government and the Agency Care and Health are responsible for the implementation, coordination and monitoring of the action plan.
The partners, organisations and individual care providers which are recognised and/or subsidised by the Flemish Government for tasks of the Preventive Health Policy and Integrated Youth Care, are accountable and monitored. They must submit an annual progress report to the Flemish Government. The Flemish Governments defines detailed rules.
However, a new Health Ambition on Suicide Prevention and a new Action Plan on Suicide Prevention is in the making. During the Health Conference on Suicide Prevention in 2021, a proposal for a new Health Ambition and Action Plan on Suicide Prevention, the result of a participatory process, has been released.
Kopklanken – conference on the mental well-being of young people
In 2016, the Flemish Youth Council started the project Kopklanken. Young people of the Flemish Youth Council gathered information and the advice of experts and policy makers. They conducted an online survey among 1100 young people and participated in two European youth conferences. This resulted in strong signals and a number of concrete policy recommendations on mental well-being of young people.
On 4 March 2017, these strong signals and policy recommendations were presented on the conference Kopklanken, which provided a forum for different voices (young people, policymakers, experts and youth workers).
'Fit in your head, feeling well' campaign
The Fit in your Head, feeling well campaign (Fit in je hoofd, goed in je vel) was launched in 2006 by the Flemish Minister of Welfare, Public Health and Family and was further developed into a spin-off website.
The campaign and website of the Flemish Government aim at fostering resilience and ability to self-care among people aged over 16 years old in Flanders. The implementation of this action is part of the first strategy of the Flemish Action Plan on Suicide Prevention (2012-2020), namely the mental health promotion of the individual and the society.
For the period 2015-2020, the budget allocated to the ‘Fit in your head, feeling well’ campaign and website is 119.650 euro. This budget also contains the budget for the campaign and website Noknok.
Noknok is a website and focuses on young people between the ages of 12 to 16 years old. It contains information and assignments to feel good about yourself. The implementation of Noknok is also part of the first strategy of the Flemish Action Plan on Suicide Prevention (2012-2020).
For the period 2015-2020, the budget allocated to the ‘Fit in your head, feeling well’ campaign and the ‘Noknok’ campaign is 119650 euros.
'life without a filter' ('Leef zonder filter') campaign
'Life without a filter' is the 2018 campaign on Mental Health, launched by the Flemish Minister of Welfare, Public Health and Family. This campaign wants to give young people between 16 and 24 years old the following message: go talk to friends, family, classmates,… if you are not feeling well in your head. Do not be deceived by social media: dare to life without a filter. The campaign gives some tips to increase mental resilience.
Kopp-Vlaanderen has an attractive and youth-friendly website for children and young people of parents with mental problems. The implementation of ‘Kopp-Vlaanderen’ is part of the fifth strategy of the Flemish Action Plan on Suicide Prevention (2012-2020), namely the attention for risk groups.
Since 2014, the existing project was not renewed but the Family Platform Mental Health was created. This is a knowledge and experience exchange platform for children and young people whose parents have mental problems, parents whose children have mental problems and persons whose partner, friends and/or family members have mental problems.
'Two houses' (Tweehuizen)
'Two houses' is tailor-made website, supported by the Flemish Government, for children and young people from divorced parents. Parents also find information on the website to help their children and young people in a difficult period.
Awel, the previous Children- and Youth Telephone, is a helpline for young people. There is also a chat function.
Tele-onthaal is a helpline for people who are in a difficult situation. You can reach them 24/24u by phone on the number 106. They also have a chat function on their website. On top of that, every conversation with tele-telephone is anonymous. A phone call with Tele-onthaal does not appear on the invoice, the volunteer cannot see the number. A chat does not leave any traces on the computer.
Tele-onthaal does not ask for name or address. Sometimes the volunteer asks the age or region of the young person. This is only done in order to be able to help them better, for example in order to make a suitable referral to another organisation.
'Suicide1813' (Zelfmoord1813) is a website and suicide line to help young people of the Centre on Suicide Prevention (CPZ). CPZ has a management agreement with the Flemish Government.
The website contains also Thinklife, an online self-help course which teaches young people to cope with suicidal thoughts. The suicide line and chat function on the website is part of the second strategy of the Flemish Action Plan on Suicide Prevention (2012-2020), namely the accessible telecare.
For the period 2015-2020, the budget allocated to the suicide line and chat function of CPZ is 325000 euros.