COST Connect on advancing mental health research through networking and collaboration


Mental health is a complex and multifaceted field, encompassing diverse domains such as psychology, neuroscience, psychiatry, sociology, and public health. Mental health challenges are on the rise, posing significant burdens on individuals, families, and societies worldwide. There is an urgent need for innovative approaches and solutions. It becomes crucial to explore the pivotal role of networking researchers in advancing our understanding of mental health-related topics.

On 24-25 October, a diverse group of COST Actions and stakeholders came together from these varied disciplines for our latest COST Connect on ‘Advancing mental health research through networking and collaboration in Europe’. They shared their expertise and exchanged different perspectives to create a holistic understanding of mental health issues.

Brian Cahill from the Researcher Mental Health Observatory (REMO) stressed the importance of well-being and mental health for Early Career Investigators in the doctoral landscape. He mentioned the Action’s manifesto and the ReMO ambassador programme, which included a training school held in Paris from 22-25 May this year.

Jean Grassmeijer from European Family Support Network (EuroFam-Net) presented the quality standards developed by the COST Action and the list of evidence based programmes. The Action is developing a standardization framework on skills related to standards for the workforce in family support.

This was the first meeting where I had the unique opportunity to meet others in my field, and connect with stakeholders. I found it a very enriching experience. My Action (EuroFam-Net) will start a COST Innovators Grant this November where we hope to bridge the implementation gap and gather knowledge at a national level.

Jean Grassmeijer, European Family Support Network

Frédéric Destrebecq  from the European Brain Council and PAREA presented interesting data on Brain Disorders in Europe and the subsequent burden. He went into detail about the field of brain research. VOT, a patient-centred approach by the European Brain Council evaluates the impact of healthcare interventions on patient- related clinical, humanistic, and economic outcomes.

At PAREA, the Psychedelic Access and Research European Alliance, an MEP Action group has been launched, policy recommendations have been drafted, as well as a Pharma legislation position paper and an EMA policy brief. In 2024 PAREA will kick off a clinical trial addressing palliative care and depression.

Matt Bolz-Johnson from European Organisation for Rare Diseases (EURORDIS) spoke about the EURORDIS Council of National Alliances (CAN), made up of 30+ national rare disease alliances in Europe that come together to share information and best practices. He provided valuable insight into approaching stakeholders. On 28 November EURORDIS will host an event at the European Parliament on Addressing the risks and barriers faced by people in Vulnerable Situations.

José Joaquín Mira from the European Researchers’ Network Working on Second Victims (TheERNSTGroup) explained the terminology behind the second victim definition which has been updated to include diverse perspectives, experiences and new knowledge. ERNST has a new approach on how healthcare professionals can be supported in the aftermath of a patient safety incident.

Geraldine Leader at Advancing Social Inclusion through Technology and EmPowerment (a-STEP) presented the ways in which assistive technology (AT) is helpful for disability policy and can be a meaningful way to improve access to education, employment, independence and community participation.

Ursula Trummer from the Centre for Health and Migration gave examples of the ways in which the Centre for Health and Migration contributes to the theoretical and empirical knowledge base in terms of the complex interplay of health, migration, and sustainable social development. One example were vignettes which presented the cost savings through timely treatment for irregular migrants and eu citizens without insurance. For the centre, the recognition and integration of vulnerable migrant groups into mental health care is both a human rights obligation and a public health responsibility which saves economic costs.

These examples highlight the variety of research fields represented and showcased at the COST Connect event. Through striving to bring together different stakeholders and COST Actions around this topic, COST supports Mental Health Research in all its forms.

I have the impression that at COST, things move swiftly. They bring diverse communities together and they are well prepared to face grant challenges.

João Vasco Santos, European Burden of Disease Network