EUFAMI celebrated its 25th anniversary in November by organising an art exhibition to promote better mental health. A total of 25 artists from across Europe participated in an exhibition in Brussels framed under the theme of ‘HOME’.
We chose this theme because we believe that ‘Home is where the heart is’, not only a physical place of bricks and mortar, but also an environment where we feel comfortable and accepted, among people who have our best interests at heart.
Over the past 25 years, we have been constantly lobbying at an EU-level for a process of ‘deinstitutionalisation’, which involves getting people out of care facilities and hospices and back within the family and larger community. We believe that this process should be accompanied by measures to support family and informal carers so they can have access to the kind of services and financial support they need to adequately care for a loved-one.
Recent work, such as our paper on family perspectives on services for persons living with schizophrenia as part of the European Brain Council Value of Treatment project, helped us to collect data and to formulate a socio-economic response to the treatment of serious mental ill health. We have also provided input into the EU-Compass for Action on Mental Health and Well-being and collaborated in the consultation process for the EU’s landmark European Pillar of Social Rights.
In preparation for the 25th anniversary celebration, we contacted artists within our network of members across Europe and we were humbled by their response to share not only their art but their life stories. Orna Levy speaks about her brother Gil Levy, and his dialogue with great artists from the past and his attempt to reconcile himself with the internal voices in his head. British artist and activist Dolly Sen recounts in detail the impact of abuse on her life’s course, and Italian painter Lorenzo Ludi explains how he found his voice through painting. We were also in touch with EUFAMI’s founding mother Gusta Froonickx, who spoke about her life’s ambition to change the way society deals with mental health, who is also channelling her creativity through painting.