Patients’ voice heard at the Horatio Festival on Psychiatric Nursing

Anders Olauson addressed a keynote speech at the 2nd Horatio Festival 2012, the festival of the European Psychiatric Nurses, on 23 September in Stockholm, Sweden. The event was entitled “Vision, Knowledge and Practice” and our President has decided to change the order of these words to illustrate the patients’ voice in mental health issues.Being diagnosed with chronic diseases may lead to mental health implications. Specifically, patients with chronic diseases experience particular psycho-social issues, sometimes termed “the fear factor”. They are very knowledgeable about their own condition and medical care, and fears are often centred on no longer being able to exercise control over their own situation. Major concerns include for example: fear of losing physical control; inability to live independently, financial concerns; fear that something may happen to a healthy partner; concerns about social stigma; and discrimination in health and social care.

“My view is that we should first learn from practice and put in place mechanisms to evaluate and exchange good practices across Europe in order to put in place evidence based strategies to address gaps in mental healthcare” said Mr Olauson. Evaluation by patients has to be taken into account as they are not only users of healthcare services. They have valuable experience in navigating the health system, and they have a key role to play in identifying issues in healthcare systems and solutions.

“Then we need to create knowledge: putting in place research in this area is paramount to gain understanding of mental health diseases and improve the organisation of patient care to achieve high quality, patient centred care that is both efficient and more sustainable” continued our President. Creating knowledge also means ensuring adequate training for healthcare professionals, and adequate support through information and health literacy intervention for patients.

“Finally, we need to form a vision, collaborating together, users, patients, healthcare professionals and decision makers to shape the future of healthcare and face future challenges”, he concluded. Adequate prevention, screening, and support from healthcare and social services are crucial to offer a holistic approach to healthcare that encompasses mental health.

Patients need to be seen as an essential part of the solution to achieve this vision and to feed into the Horizon 2020. They are willing and able to contribute individually and collectively to improving the quality, effectiveness and sustainability of healthcare services.