'Let's make Brain Awareness Week a year-long event'
Those of us who work in areas related to brain disorders know how little funding goes into brain research as compared with other areas of medicine. Rather than claiming how unfairly we are treated and waiting for something to change – or crying in our beer – we need to be proactive. We need to inform the public, policy makers, and relevant stakeholders.
It should matter that, in Europe alone, brain disorders cost more than 950 billion euros per year and account for 35% of global burden of disease (www.braincouncil.eu). It should matter that, for the age range from 10 to 30, mental disorders cause more disability than all other medical disorders combined. It should matter that only 5.8% of total UK health research spending goes into mental health research services (www.mqmentalhealth.org) or that, for each euro spent on mental health research, 22 are spent on cancer research.
It is mostly our fault for not making the public aware of these research inequities. We need to change that. This month, 12-18 March, is Brain Awareness Week (BAW), a global campaign to increase public awareness of the progress and benefits of brain research. This worldwide celebration of the brain aims to bring together scientists, families, schools, and communities to promote brain research.
At ECNP we have decided to hold a Brain Day celebration at each of our annual congresses, conducted in the local language of the meeting venue. We also invite patient and family associations to participate in our meeting and activities. In fact, we have recently decided to include them in our Government bodies (at our last EC, we decided to invite a user/family association representative to our educational committee). Finally, we try hard to make sure that news about scientific research on the brain is reported to the public in a fair and balanced way. We are aware that the core of our vision is not directly to educate the general public, but we have great tools to help with that important task.
We all need to work together to strive for our common goals as we are all in this together!.
Let’s make Brain Awareness Week a year-long event (with weekends free to enjoy family and friends)!