WP5 – Virtual “study visit” to Belgium

The overall objective of Work Package 5 (WP5) of the JA ImpleMENTAL is to support the transition of mental health (MH) services from institutionalised MH care towards the sustainable establishment, further development or scale-up of community-based, user-centred and cross-sectoral networks for MH promotion, care and disease prevention in the participating European countries. More specifically, the aim is to transfer and pilot implement selected elements of the Belgian reform of MH care delivery based on the nationwide establishment of community-based MH service networks. Also, this WP aims to draw valuable lessons learned for further scale-up of these best practices, as well as ideas for sustaining implementation over time.

As one of the first activities of WP5 a virtual “study visit” to Belgium has been organised. The aim was gaining an in-depth insight into the Belgian best practice and discussing various aspects of the MH care delivery reform with Belgian stakeholders and experts involved in the set-up and the implementation of the reform.

The online study visit is divided into three different parts of half a day, each part having its own thematic focus.

The first session of the visit was hosted by Bernard Jacob, the Federal coordinator of the mental health care reform at the Belgian Federal Public Service for Health, Food Chain Safety and Environment, and his team. It enabled about 50 representatives of the WP5 partner institutions to meet and exchange with 12 Belgian experts from the Federal Public Service and other institutions involved in the preparation of the reform. Topics discussed included not only the preparation and set-up of the MH services’ reform and the general approach chosen, but also allowed to explore aspects like the construction of community-based networks at regional/local level, financing, participation of users and families (peer support), target groups and training and capacity building. Further, barriers and success factors for the reform as well as reactions and opposition to the reform process were discussed.

The second and third part of the study visit will take place on 25th February and 4th March respectively. During the second session issues linked to the MH information system and the reform of MH service delivery for children and adolescents will be investigated. The third and last part of the virtual visit will focus on the practical organisation and operation of community-based networks for (adult) MH care delivery.

The virtual study tour allows the WP5 partners to become familiar with the manifold facets of the Belgian model of community-based MH care and networks and supports them in identifying elements of the Belgian best practice that will be transferred and piloted in their own country context during the Joint Action.