The ‘Pros’ convince politicians

Nearly 400 people with backgrounds in the health service and public sector agencies, as well as students and politicians, attended an Inspiration Day on mental health care for children and adolescents on 4 November organised by the Mental Health Pros (PsykiskhelseProffene) and Change Factory (Forandringsfabriken).

Amongst the attendees was State Secretary Julie Brodtkorb, who is one of the closest colleagues of Prime Minister Erna Solberg.

“My first meeting with you last year was decidedly the most powerful meeting I have attended and one of the most important things I have been involved in as a politician”, commented a visibly moved Julie Brodtkorb upon meeting the Mental Health Pros again at the Sentrum Scene venue in Oslo.

Later in the day Bent Høie, Norway’s Minister of Health, took to the stage. The Mental Health Pros made three demands in their meeting with him. The first is that it should be illegal to diagnose children as having a medical condition when the possibility that they are simply reacting naturally to difficult experiences cannot be ruled out. Doctors must not come before or replace options that allow children to talk over and through their difficult issues.

The Mental Health Pros’ second requirement was that parents must not automatically have access rights. Many of the Pros have stories of situations in which their parents were allowed to know everything they said in meetings held with the Child Welfare Services. This led to them losing confidence in those claiming to be wanting to help them, and to them consequently ceasing to tell the truth. 

The final requirement from the Pros is that they do not want to be part of the planned ‘package course’ scheme for mental health, which will mean that certain diagnoses will follow a planned course, with a certain number of hours and a fixed treatment program.

The Minister of Health agrees that the package course scheme for mental health cannot be a carbon copy of the package course for cancer, but maintains that it will be introduced.

“We would like to invite service users and patients to be involved in further planning, and their input will be valued just as much as that of professionals and other groups participating in this work. I believe this to be an ideal way to go about solving the problems, and that it will be a very good solution”, explained Bent Høie.

The Pros had already been invited on the same day by the Health Minister to discuss the package course scheme further and to give him their advice about diagnoses and parents’ access rights. The Pros will continue to work to ensure that all children and adolescents are able to access mental health services that respect the need for codetermination, humility, openness and kindness. They think this will be difficult with the package course scheme.

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