Give mental health the attention it deserves, says Belgian Queen
Tuesday, 18 June 2019
The Belgian Queen was speaking at the European Development Days event. Credit: Wikipedia
Queen Mathilde launched a strong appeal for mental health to be given the attention it deserves when she visited the European Development Days (EDD) in Brussels on Tuesday.
During a discussion with World Health Organisation (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, she called on the world to break “the taboo surrounding mental health”.
The EDDs have been organised each year since 2006 by the European Commission. The 13th edition, inaugurated on Tuesday and ending on Wednesday, focusses on the fight against inequality, one of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDG).
Queen Mathilde arrived at Tours et Taxis around 10:45 a.m. for the inauguration of the event and began her visit with a stop at the United Nations stand, where she received a presentation on the application developed to promote the SMGs.
This app photographs people and adds butterfly wings to their image, a reference to the butterfly effect – small actions bringing about change. Queen Mathilde was thus fitted with a pair of wings linked to the 10th SMG: the fight against inequality.
Mental health is an issue dear to the Queen and, in her discussion with the WHO Director-General, she placed emphasis on this often-downplayed aspect of human development. “We need to pay more attention to mental health problems,” she stressed, noting that people with such illnesses “face enormous obstacles and we need to break the silence” on this issue.
Stigmatisation is the greatest obstacle faced by the mentally ill, according to the Queen. “It prevents them from seeking the treatment they need,” she explained. “It is very difficult to recognise that one needs assistance, so it’s important to talk about it. We need to break the taboo.”
“Stigmatisation takes place at the very heart of the health system,” said Director-General Ghebreyesus, stressing that “political commitment is the key” to resolving these problems.
The Queen, accompanied by Minister of Cooperation and Development Alexander De Croo, then met the Young Leaders, 15 youths selected to speak with Heads of State on the theme of development on behalf of the young generation.