20 December 2018

MHE national and European empowerment seminars

A recap of our 2018 empowerment seminars for (ex)users of mental health services.


Every year, MHE supports the organisation of Empowerment seminars for (ex)users of mental health services across Europe. These seminars’ objectives are to bring together experts by experience to learn from each other and increase their participation and meaningful contribution in the decision-making processes of the EU. Through workshops and discussions, we hope they feel better equipped with skills and knowledge to promote their rights.




The first national empowerment seminar of the year was held in Vilnius, Lithuania in October 2018. 20+ users of mental health services attended the event. One of the guest speakers was Lesley Smith from the Scottish Recovery Network who shared her experience and introduced the recovery approach to attendees. Participants all had very different ideas of the Lithuanian translation of the term and concept of ‘recovery’, and what it means in the context of their own lives. Participants had a lively debate about the use of medication as a form of treatment. They however all agreed about the need to have a set of terms and services that would empower mental health service users.






35 people attending the Belgian National Empowerment Seminar this year, including MHE members Belgian Crésam, VVGG, PC Gent – Sleidinge, VZW Hand in Hand/ IPSO and Cliëntenbureau. The morning discussions covered topics such as Kwartiermaken, recovery stories, the Open Dialogue model,  people with lived experience working in mental health care as well as presentations from Cliëntenbureau and Psytoyens. During the afternoon participants were able to attend different workshops to encourage discussions and presentation of their project as well as exchange of ideas.




The European empowerment seminar was held in December at Enik Recovery College in the Netherlands, a peer-run center for development and training around recovery. Peer support workers and (ex)users and survivors of psychiatry from across Europe attended the meeting.  The meeting was co-organised by Lister (Enik RC) and ENUSP  and supported by MHE. The main focus of the first day was peer support, the implementation of peer support services and how to develop peer support skills.  The second day was facilitated by ENUSP board members and focused on the rights of people living with mental ill health  in Europe.

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