The European Parliament Interest Group on Mental Health, Well-Being and Brain Disorders, facilitated by the Global Alliance of Mental Illness Advocacy Networks (GAMIAN-Europe) held their first meeting of the year on January 20, in the European Parliament, Brussels. The interest group is co-chaired by MEPs Nessa Childers (S&D – Ireland), Marian Harkin (ALDE – Ireland), Jean Lambert (Greens – UK) and Cristian Silviu Busoi (ALDE – Romania). The title of the meeting was “Sound Mental Health Policy Development – the Need for Focused Research” and had focus on the ROAMER project and mental health in Horizon2020.

ROAMER (“Roadmap for Mental Health Research in Europe”) is an EU-funded project that EBC is taking part in. EBC Vice-President, Patrice Boyer, was therefore asked to take part in the panel discussion on ROAMER together with David McDaid, from the London School of Economics, and Paul Arteel, Executive Director of GAMIAN-Europe. The interest group had also invited Commission officials, Barbara Kerstiens, Head of Sector Public Health, DG Research & Innovation, and Jürgen Scheftlein, Policy Officer, DG Santé (formerly DG SANCO) to talk about the Commission’s approach and projects in the field of mental health, such as the Joint Action on Mental Health and Well-Being and how the project findings from ROAMER could be included in it. Barbara Kerstiens talked about EU-funded projects such as DEVELAGE and EUROSPIN as well as more generally onHorizon2020. The latter did receive much attention, especially after it was announced that funding streams within Horizon2020 might be reduced in order to contribute to financing President Juncker’s Investment Plan. Among others, Horizon2020’s “Societal Challenges” pillar funds projects including research on understanding health, ageing and disease and active ageing and developing and comparing new models for safe and efficient, prevention oriented health and care system.

However, no answer could be provided as yet on EBC’s question as to what concrete implications Juncker’s Investment Plan would have on Horizon2020 and brain related research. The EBC will though remain watchful as regards the potential developments in this regard and calls on its member organisations to continue advocating for the need for sustained brain research in Europe.