On 2nd June 2015, the European Brain Council co-organised a meeting of the European Parliament Interest Group on Mental Health, Well-being and Brain Disorders, along with the Global Alliance of Mental Illness Advocacy Networks (GAMIAN-Europe). The event was chaired by MEP Nessa Childers, and aimed at stressing the crucial need for improved treatment of brain disorders as well as unmet medical needs.
Today, 1 in 3 European citizen will get diagnosed with a mental disorders at some point in their life. In this respect, having a quick and correct diagnosis is therefore crucial. Yet, 50% of those diagnosed don’t find any appropriate treatment, be it for geographical or financial reasons, or because of stigma, as many of them will not dare speaking openly about their condition.
In addition, one of the major difficulties when it comes to treatments of brain disorders lies in defining the outcomes they should provide. The different actors involved in this process focus on various goals: reducing the symptoms, addressing the cost effectiveness, guaranteeing the safety of medicines or improving the quality of life of patients. However, a survey conducted by GAMIAN-Europe has demonstrated that patients clearly identify their objective as being able to resume working.
From the challenges identified in the course of the discussion, it was clear that more basic and clinical research is needed. Even though billions have been invested for improved medication over the recent years, brain research still lags behind other fields of research such as those applied to cancer or cardiovascular diseases. In this regard, it seemed that stigma doesn’t only affect patients living with brain disorders, but also negatively impacts on research.
In conclusion, the only solution to develop improved treatments of brain disorders must come from structural changes. Actors such as researchers and patients shouldn’t be looking for additional funding: it should be better integrated in healthcare system. It is therefore time for the paradigm to shift.