16.05.2016 At first hand

Anyone who addresses health-related issues soon realises how important mental health is. It plays a crucial role in determining our well-being, whereas mental illnesses can seriously impair our quality of life and, particularly, our relations with the world around us. In recent decades, this awareness has generated a wide range of projects and initiatives in the fields of prevention, health promotion and primary healthcare, but also in education and the work environment.

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Furthermore, mental health has evolved into an important health-policy topic. Both the Swiss government and the cantons now acknowledge that mental illness represents a heavy burden of disease and that mental health has to be protected and promoted just as physical health does. The Swiss government's overall "Health 2020" strategic agenda also includes mental health as a topic. It puts particular emphasis on the workplace setting: people with mental illness must be helped so as to avoid exclusion from the employment process when mental problems occur.   The Federal Office of Public Health is active in the field of mental health, working in close and successful cooperation with the Swiss Conference of Cantonal Health Ministers (GDK) and the Health Promotion Switzerland Foundation. Last year saw the completion of the joint report on "Mental Health in Switzerland", which describes the measures envisaged for the next few years. Work on drawing up an action plan to prevent suicides is currently under way. Although the suicide rate in Switzerland has fallen in recent years, a great deal can still be done to bring about a further, sustainable reduction in suicides and attempted suicides.  

Great importance also attaches to the range of healthcare services available to people with mental illness. According to the "Future of Psychiatry in Switzerland" report produced in response to a parliamentary postulate and approved by the Swiss government in March 2016, Switzerland enjoys high-quality provision of psychiatric care.

But the report also shows that there is still potential for development.   With the measures scheduled to be put in place by 2020 in cooperation with the cantons, the Health Promotion Switzerland Foundation and private-sector organisations, I am confident that major advances can be achieved in the field of public mental health.    

Margreet Duetz Schmucki,
head of National Health Policy Section,
Federal Office of Public Health

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