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Mental Health Patient Advocacy Groups in EU Say Strong Partnerships with Government and Industry Can Ensure Forward Progress

New Report from inVentiv Health Examines Mental Health Advocacy Wish Lists and Priorities for Reform

LONDON — January 23, 2017 – The UK government's recent pledge to better support people with mental health issues in workplaces and schools within a 'shared society' approach – to address a disease that costs the UK approximately £105bn annually1– is a key example of how sustained partnerships can set a positive path forward for those affected by mental illness. These types of partnerships can improve the medico-social aspects of care for people living with mental illnesses, according to a report released today by inVentiv Health Public Relations Group.

The report, "An Advocacy Rx for Progress in Mental Health," is based on in-depth interviews with advocacy and mental health experts across Europe and the U.S. aimed at better understanding the barriers to advancements in the field of mental health. One strong theme that emerged is the need for improved collaboration among patients, physicians, pharma companies and governments.

Mental illness accounts for almost 20 percent of the burden of disease in the WHO European Region, and mental health problems affect one in four people at some time in life.2 Six out of the 20 countries with the highest suicide rates in the world are in the European Region2 and in many EU Member States, depression is already the most prevalent health problem costing employers about 100 billion Euros each year.3 The culminating impact on individuals and society is immense.

"The purpose of the report is to highlight what mental health advocacy organizations seek from stakeholders, including the pharmaceutical industry, and place an emphasis on the possible routes for redefining and accelerating progress in the mental health arena." said Claire Greeff, Chandler Chicco Agency Lead (Europe), part of inVentiv Health PR Group.

The advocacy groups expressed concern about the lack of funding and attention for mental health versus some physical illnesses such as cancer, resulting in less investment in research and thus slowing the pace of scientific innovation. In two previous reports on patient advocacy, inVentiv Health described how advocacy groups seek expanded roles in shaping early clinical research, a shared sentiment among mental health advocates.

Dr. Henk Parmentier, GP, Board Member and Director, World Federation for Mental Health said, "Universally, our priorities for people suffering from mental health illnesses are prevention via early screening, better integration of treatment pathways, along with access to and positive experience of quality care. To achieve these goals there remain a number of challenges for us all to navigate. With deeper and longer-term collaboration with committed stakeholders, from drug development right through to provision of care, these challenges are not insurmountable."

Other ways outlined in the report that industry can work with patient advocacy groups to make progress within the mental health space, include:

  • Engaging advocacy groups as partners early in the drug development process, even at the discovery/pre-clinical stages
  • Developing more sophisticated screeners for mental health conditions
  • Providing education on personalized treatment strategies
  • Defending corporate budgets for research into the causes of mental illness and sharing knowledge with government and philanthropic programs
  • Remaining committed by developing new drugs in spite of the many technical and reimbursement challenges

The full report is available at For additional information on the research or services inVentiv Health PR Group provides to patient advocacy organizations and pharmaceutical companies, contact Arno Bock at

1 Centre for Mental Health 2010 Economic and social costs of mental health problems in 2009/10
2 World Health Organisation: Mental Health Data and statistics Last accessed 8 January 2017.
3 European Depression Association Depression Manifesto: A Manifesto calling for action against Depression Last accessed 8 January 2017.

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