Mental Health and Substance Use

On the 10th of October, on World Mental Health Day, the Civil Society Forum on Drugs (CSFD) sent its position paper People Who Use Drugs and Mental Health to the EU Spanish Presidency, the Horizontal Working Party on Drugs, and the European Commission.

The paper addresses the complexity of the relationship between mental health conditions and substance use. Mental health conditions are influenced by social determinants such as inequality, discrimination, violence, and homelessness, factors which disproportionately affect people who use drugs. Furthermore, specific subpopulations, including women, young people, ethnic minorities, and indigenous groups, face unique challenges in accessing appropriate services for their mental health and substance use needs. These disparities highlight the pressing need for a comprehensive and inclusive approach to addressing these issues from a person-centred, holistic perspective. The paper also calls for specific terminology reform, promoting the use of the term ‘comorbidity’ to describe the existence of both mental health conditions and substance use.

The paper concludes with a number of recommendations related to this issue, urging for a comprehensive review of current shortcomings in accessibility, inclusivity and sustainability of care. The CSFD welcomes the introduction of this topic within the political agenda, as these issues have historically been disregarded and warrant urgent consideration. The CSFD’s position paper serves as a call to action, urging policymakers, healthcare providers, and society at large to recognize and address the critical issues surrounding mental health and substance use. By adopting these recommendations and working together, we can strive for a more inclusive and compassionate approach to mental health care for all, particularly those who use drugs and face complex challenges.

Read CSFD’s position paper here>>>.

Marija Mijović, member of the DPNSEE Board, who contributed to the document, translated it into Montenegrin (also easy to read by those speaking Bosnian, Croatian and Serbian). You can access the document Osobe koje koriste droge i mentalno zdravlje following this link>>>.