On January 15-17, 2017, I was privileged to attend, on behalf of LSF Health Systems, the second European Community-Based Mental Health Services (EuCoMS) Network conference, which took place in Belfast, Ireland. It was my honor to showcase our team’s incredible work to the EuCom group. The purpose of the meeting was to advance EuCom’s goal of implementing community-based care as the main system of care for Europe. Presently, European countries’ primary mode of treatment for mental health issues is inpatient psychiatric care. The system is driven by psychiatrists and psychiatric nurses. Psychiatrists are incentivized for filling inpatient beds and are, therefore, resistant to shifting to a community-based system of care.
The meeting was attended by 14 European countries and 32 provider organizations. The countries present were the Netherlands, United Kingdom, Moldova, Northern Ireland, Belgium, Czech Republic, Greece, Germany, Norway, Scotland, Spain, Romania, Croatia -and the USA! They are eager to learn more about our community-based system of care as they work to identify and implement innovative, best-practice models of outpatient programs. The group has developed two draft documents to date: A Shared Value proclamation and a Consensus paper (attached). Final drafts will be drawn up for the next meeting, which is scheduled for September 2017.
The meeting began with a reception at a provider’s headquarters in Belfast on Sunday. The next three days were filled with developing the Shared Value proclamation and Consensus paper, participating in presentations and tours of three programs in Northern Ireland. We also attended two riveting workshops on trauma recovery/complex and PTSD issues presented by a Clinical Psychologist in Belfast who is administering a PTSD Recovery Clinic as well as a Psychiatrist in Croatia who runs groups for individuals suffering from PTSD post atrocities in Croatia.
The highlight of the trip was a visit from Chancellor Brian Kingston, Lord Mayor of Belfast. He offered his support to the group for their efforts to focus on Community-Based Care. I was then asked to meet with Chancellor Brian Kingston; Dr. Rene Keet, lead organizer for EuCoMS (The Netherlands); Dr. Peter McBride, CEO of Inspire Mental Health (Belfast); and Dr. Hugh McKenna, Dean of Medical School, Ulster University (Belfast) to discuss the high rate of suicide in Northern Ireland (the highest of all European countries), PTSD crisis, as well as plans for transforming their current system of care. They were very interested in the work we are doing with the FL LINC project, our trauma-informed collaborative, and our many innovative, community-based services. I thank you for the honor of representing LSF Health Systems in helping other communities implement behavioral health best practices on an international basis.
Dr. Christine Cauffield
Vice President, LSF Health Systems