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Queen Mathilde speaks at Global Mental Health Summit in Paris

© European Commission/CC/Flickr

Queen Mathilde travelled to Paris in her role as an advocate for the promotion of the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals to address the conference for mental health taking place in the French capital. 

Her Majesty arrived in Paris on Tuesday, 5 October, at the Convention Centre of Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs, and, following the opening remarks delivered by the French Minister for Solidarity and Health Olivier Véran, the Belgian Queen was the first of the keynote speakers. 

In her address, Queen Mathilde highlighted the importance of listening throughout the entire process of seeking help for mental health issues. She stated that listening is the key not only to offer better care to the patients, whether they are just entering therapy or they are seeking medications, but it is also how, in the end, we can collectively reduce the stigma attached to mental health. 

Her Majesty also underlined how ample is the spectrum of reasons that can bring along mental struggles: from family issues to temporary stress, from conflict to poverty, the magnitude of concerns that can bring an individual to seek help is so conspicuous that finding just one solution seems a herculean task. 

The Queen, therefore, called for all actors, from politicians who make decisions to healthcare personnel, from volunteers and associations to the support system in communities, to work together to find practicable solutions that can be tailored to each situation.

She finally stressed the importance of such meetings as the one currently taking place in Paris, in which many perspectives are brought to the table, to find constantly innovative ways to deal with mental health struggles. 

The Global Mental Health Summit is currently in its third edition, with the first two having been held in London in 2018 and Amsterdam in 2019. Paris was chosen to host the 2020 edition, but, because of logistical difficulties due to the global shutdown and travel restrictions, it had to be postponed to 2021. The summit concluded on 6 October, and the presence of the Italian Minister of Health Roberto Speranza for the announcement of the next edition of the meeting makes it plausible that Italy will be the next country to host the summit.

Queen Mathilde of the Belgians has a long-standing relation with the United Nations. After collaborating with them in her role as Emissary for the Year of Microcredit, in 2005, she has been involved with several of their organisations, such as Unicef (Her Majesty has been a patron of Unicef Belgium since 2009) and the World Health Organisation, where she serves as Special Ambassador for Immunisation. Her latest appointment was as a Advocate for the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals in 2016, a role she will retain until at least 2023 when the next advocates for the SDGs will be chosen.