José Miñones reaffirms the Government's commitment to mental health in Spain and the EU

News - 2023.9.8

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The acting Minister for Health, José Miñones, reaffirmed this Friday the Government of Spain's commitment to Mental Health and the fight against the associated stigma, both nationally and in the context of the EU.

He underlined this during his visit, together with the Regional Minister for Health of the Principality of Asturias, Concepción Saavedra, to the facilities of the Villa Maribona Mental Health Day Hospital and Therapeutic Community in Avilés.

The Minister for Health recalled how in recent years Spain has moved from silence to debate and from debate to action in the field of mental health, by updating the Mental Health Strategy 2022-2026, after more than a decade without doing so.

This strategy, which has not been updated since 2009, as Miñones recalled, has a new approach based on the promotion of mental health, the prevention of suicidal behaviour, and interaction with the family environment, with an emphasis on the rights and autonomy of the patient. It also has clear goals: care for children and adolescents, advancing social integration, reducing stigma and limiting, as much as possible, involuntary interventions.

It is also the basis of the Mental Health Action Plan 2022-2024, endowed with €100 million euros, a programme that is the outcome of the work and commitment of the executive and the autonomous communities and cities, and thanks to which tools have been set up such as the 024 telephone line, the Suicidal Behaviour Hotline.

This is a free, confidential, inclusive, accessible resource, attended 24 hours a day, 365 days a year by experts, and which, as confirmed by the Minister for Health, has recently been extended and reinforced with the addition of more professionals to reach a total of 50 psychologists.

The service has already handled more than 158,000 calls, and its chat version, aimed especially at younger users, has already begun its activity, as confirmed by the acting Minister for Health.

Miñones also recalled that the Government of Spain has raised the debate on Mental Health to the level of the EU, with its inclusion in the strategic lines on health matters of the Presidency of the Council of the EU and the provision of resources, such as the 024 line, to all member states.

In this regard, he reiterated the desire expressed by the European Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, Stella Kyriakides, to expand the 024 model throughout the EU and to place mental health at the centre of European policy action, as the Government of Spain is already doing.

Important role of the autonomous communities and cities

The Acting Minister for Health also highlighted the important role played by the autonomous communities and cities in mental health care and, in this regard, thanked the principality for the national and international benchmark in the community approach to mental health that it represents, with examples such as Villa Maribona.

On 14 November, the city of Avilés will host a high-level meeting (HLM) on mental health, as part of the health agenda of the Spanish Presidency of the EU, which will focus the debate at European level on the measures to be adopted in this area.

In this regard, he also highlighted the significant boost provided by the Community Mental Health Infrastructure Plan, with €38.5 million for the whole territory, and in the case of Asturias representing an investment of close to one million euros.

These funds are intended to improve the infrastructure and clinical equipment of the National Health System's centres, services and units for community mental health care for adults, young people and children alike, and will be used, among other things, to finance psychometric evaluation material, child and adolescent mental health teams and educational and therapeutic tools.

During the visit, the Minister for Health was accompanied by, among others, the Vice-President of the Principality of Asturias, María Celia Fernández; the Government Delegate in Asturias, Delia Losa; the First Deputy Mayor of Avilés, Sara Retuerto; and the Director General of Public Health and Mental Health Care, Ángel López.

Non official translation