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>>>.

EATG SCOPE project community consultation

The European AIDS Treatment Group (EATG) invited us to the SCOPE project community consultation held on 20 October 2022 with representatives from other key population network organisations on HIV combination prevention standards of care. Board member Marija Mijović represented DPNSEE at the consultations.

The SCOPE project is implemented with the aim to strengthen community engagement at local and regional levels and to reduce the gap in access and use of HIV combination prevention interventions by populations that are most affected by HIV, but which remain inadequately served by the health system and which are underrepresented in policy and public debate.

The purpose of this research was to identify a community consensus working definition of “HIV combination prevention” and develop population-specific standards of care indicators for the delivery of effective HIV combination prevention services in the WHO European region.

During the meeting, the participants had the opportunity to provide feedback on the research process, to ensure that population-specific prevention needs are incorporated and that the proposed prevention standards of care are acceptable and usable for future community monitoring.