22.03.2023 - Mental health & resilience in times of polycrisis

05.06.2022 - Towards a childhood free from unhealthy food marketing
18.05.2022 - General Assembly 2022: All on board: towards inclusive mental health care

12.05.2021 - General Assembly 2021: Sustainable and healthy food

Mental health & resilience in times of polycrisis
22 March 2023, Brussels

War in Europe, rising energy costs, climate change, upcoming viruses,... one crisis has not yet ended and another one already seems to surge. In the last years, we have been facing a situation of poly-crises. How can the population at an individual and collective level cope with this new context, knowing that each crisis has an impact on mental health and that the burden is likely to become stronger with each accumulation? 

Despite multiple warning signals about the mental health of the population in general and of some groups in particular (such as youngsters and isolated people), the mental health research is still systematically underfunded in Belgium. We are still lacking targeted evidence-based interventions to strengthen mental health in citizens. 

To highlight the importance of investing in mental health research and developing long-term integrated prevention policies in Belgium, the Superior Health Council organizes the meeting "Mental health & resilience in times of polycrisis" on Wednesday March 22. A panel of renowned international and Belgian experts in this field will address these issues. Keynote speakers will set the stage with analyses of the economic impact of poor mental health.  In the afternoon, the most important burdens that we faced and/or are currently starting to face will be addressed during four thematic sessions: COVID-19, climate change, war/refugees and energy/economic crisis. Finally, we will conclude the day with a roundtable including key actors (policymakers, practitioners, patients, research agencies, the economic sector, health insurance).

When? Wednesday 22 March 2023 from 9 am to 4 pm
Where? Galilee Building, Avenue Galilée 5/2, 1210 Brussels (multimodal access plan)
Working language is English for the keynotes and the thematic sessions and Dutch/French for the roundtable
Accreditation available
Entrance free

Download the complete slidedeck

09:30 - 09:40 Welcome by prof. Olivier Luminet , co-president of the permanent group Mental Health of the Superior Health Council

09:40 - 10:00         Prof. Inez Germeys, KU Leuven 
Research in mental health: Bridging the knowledge gap

10:00 - 10:25         Pierre Smith, Sciensano
Mental health in Belgium: current trends, determinants and burden

10:25 - 11:05         David McDaid, London School of Economics
Mental health and wellbeing during times of economic shock: an economic as well as moral imperative

11:05 - 11:35 Coffee break

11:35 - 12:15         Philip Haywood, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)
Resilience, mental health and cross-country comparisons: the experience of the OECD

12:15 - 12:30 Q&A

12:30 - 13:30 Lunch

13:30 - 14:45 Breakout sessions (in English) 

  • Session 1: COVID-19

Dr. Josefien van Olmen, Universiteit Antwerpen
Integrated care – the research agenda in the view of mental health and wellbeing

Joachim Waterschoot, Universiteit Gent
The Impact of the COVID-19 crisis on People’s Mental Health in Belgium: Insights from the Motivation Barometer

Keenan Ramsey, UTwente
Be-Prepared: Insights from a Dutch consortium taking a behavioral science to address the COVID-19 pandemic

Elise Derroitte, Christian Health Insurance Fund
The evolution and impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the use of mental health care: a quantitative study based on data from the Mutualité chrétienne/Christelijke Mutualiteit (MC-CM)

  • Session 2: Refugees and trauma

Nele Roppe, Doctors of the World
Mental health on the move

Ilse Derluyn, Centre for the Social Study of Migration and Refugees (CESSMIR), Ghent University
Mental health of refugees, with a particular focus on young refugees: prevalence and possible interventions

Marie Dauvrin, Belgian Health Care Knowledge Centre (KCE)
Are migrants merely semi-human, then? Challenges of the health care system to meet the mental health needs of migrants

  • Session 3: Economic/energy crisis

Sabina Sedlak & Marjetka Jelenc, National Institute of Public Health, Ljubljana, Slovenia
Economic burden of dementia and suicides in Slovenia in the period including economic crises

Saskia Decuman, RIZIV-INAMI
Focus on mental health within health and disability insurance: state of play

Prof. dr. Piet Bracke, Health and Demographic Research (HEDERA) group, Universiteit Gent
Mental health and social inequality: fables and facts

  • Session 4: Climate change

Prof. Alexandre Heeren, UCLouvain
On climate anxiety and its (mal)adaptive nature

Weronika Kałwak, Jagiellonian University, Poland
What we know, what we don't know, and what we assume about the impact of climate change on mental health and well-being in Europe

Prof. dr. Ann DeSmet, Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB)
The importance of the natural environment for mental well-being

Suzanne Askenasi, Erasmus Hospital Brussels
The Meditation Course: a tool for stress management, well-being, personal development and peace of mind in relationships

14:45 - 15:00 Break

15:00 - 16:00 Panel discussion (in Dutch/French)

Moderator    Brecht Devleesschauwer, Sciensano
Panelists         Kirsten Catthoor, Vlaamse Vereniging voor Psychiatrie (VVP)
                             Filip De Keersmaecker and Vanessa Matthyssen, vzw Uilenspiegel
                             Xavier Hulhoven, Innoviris (Brussels-Capital Region)
                             François Perl, Solidaris
                             Jean Hindriks, Head of Economics School of Louvain (UCLouvain)
                             Laurence Hennuy, Chamber of Representatives (Ecolo-Groen)

16:00 Closing words by prof. Alexis Dewaele

Organizing committee
Superior Health Council
Prof. Inez Germeys, KU Leuven
Pierre Smith, Sciensano
Prof. Kris Van den Broeck, UAntwerpen
Prof. Olivier Luminet, UC Louvain
Prof. Alexis Dewaele, Universiteit Gent
Prof. Ann DeSmet, ULB
Prof. Elke Van Hoof, VUB

This event is organized with the support of

05 DECEMBER 2022

Children are too often exposed to food of poor nutritional quality. Advertisements are everywhere: on television and in the supermarket, on social media, on their smartphones, at the sports club and on the way to school. In these digital times, advertising is also increasingly attractive and sometimes very entertaining. Especially the frequent promotion of unhealthy food products worries the Superior Health Council, as it can cause children to adopt bad eating habits.

The Superior Health Council of Belgium (SHC) placed this theme at the centre of its latest report in October 2022. In collaboration with the FPS Public Health and the European project Best-ReMaP, they are now organising the study day "Towards a childhood free from unhealthy food marketing".

Download the slidedeck here.


  • 10 AM - Introduction
    Prof. Jean Nève, president of the Superior Health Council
    Frank Vandenbroucke, deputy prime minister and minister of Public health
  • 10.15 AM - Exposure of children to unhealthy food marketing, impact on diets and evidence for action
    Maria João Gregório, Director of the National Healthy Eating Promotion Program, Directorate-General of Health, Portugal
  • 10.35 AM - New set of recommendations of the WHO on reducing food marketing to children
    Kremlin Wickramsinghe, WHO Europe
  • 10.55 AM - Marketing to Children: What needs to be done and how to get there.
    Experiences in Belgium and the EU.

    Emma Calvert, Senior Food Policy Officer, BEUC
    Véronique Demierbe, Project Officer Food, Test Aankoop/Test Achats
  • 11.15 AM - The Tricky Business of Marketing to Children in a Digital Age
    Prof. Liselot Hudders, Universiteit Gent
  • 11.35 AM - Nutri-Score : a potential nutrient profiling tool to screen unhealthy food marketing to children
    Hélène Alexiou, Lecturer in Nutrition and Dietetics, Haute Ecole Léonard de Vinci
  • 11.55 AM - Where can we go from here to reduce food marketing in Belgium?
    Laurence Doughan, Nutrition Policy Expert, FPS Public Health
  • 12.05 PM - Introduction on the recommendations of the Superior Health Council's report on food marketing to children
    Stefanie Vandevijvere, Senior Researcher Nutrition and Health, Sciensano
  • 12.15 PM - Lunch
  • 13.15 PM - Panel debate with key stakeholders
    a.o. Vlaams Instituut Gezond Leven, Office de la naissance et de l'enfance (ONE), Conseil Supérieur de l'Audiovisuel (CSA), le délégué général aux droits de l’enfants, Forum des jeunes
  • 14.15 PM - Closing session

General meeting
All on board: towards inclusive mental health care
18 may 2022, Brussels

The coronavirus pandemic struck many like a bolt from the blue. While the general population seems to be holding up well, a vulnerable minority still struggles. As the pandemic train loses speed and daily life returns to normal, how can we ensure that everyone stays on board? And, how can we ensure that those who fell off track, can get back on?
The Superior Health Council is placing these questions at the centre of its General Assembly with the theme "All on board: towards inclusive mental health care". The study day aims to highlight different elements within the stepped care model of mental health care, from prevention and early detection to rapid and targeted interventions. From the lessons learned during the pandemic, the various speakers on the programme look ahead to the future and outline the necessary steps for a strengthened care system. In doing so, we strive to give a voice to those who are now suffering in silence.
The General Assembly of the Superior Health Council took place on Wednesday 18 May 2022 in Brussels.
You can watch the recording in full here.


GENERAL ASSEMBLY 2021 - Sustainable and healthy food
12 May 2021

Over the coming decades, the world's population will continue to grow steadily. The world's food supply will have to keep up as the negative effects of climate change on food production have become increasingly apparent. Moreover, the global burden of disease related to inadequate nutrition (both from undernutrition as well as malnutrition) will continue to increase.

The food chain, from food production to consumption will therefore come under increasing pressure and will inevitably have to adapt to these pressing challenges. Creative solutions will be required at all levels involved, such as agriculture, food processing, distribution, consumption as well as the social context of food.

Following the example of other international institutions, the Superior Health Council, which already pays special attention to the relationship between food and health, wishes to encourage a transdisciplinary approach to this problem. 

With this morning seminar, the Superior Health Council aims to support the creation of a multisectoral dynamic that is necessary to lead to the development of new concepts with a solid and consensual basis, which aim in particular at fair and sustainable production and healthy food consumption.

Programme 12 May 2021

•10 am: Welcome
    Fabrice Péters, Coordinator SHC
    Stefaan De Henauw, President working group Nutrition & Health
    Tom Auwers, President FPS Public Health
•10.20 am: Transforming the food system towards sustainability: what does this mean for our diet?
    Tim Benton
    Director, Chatham House, United Kingdom
•11.00 am: "The rise of kale" – Positive food system transformation stories from the Nordic countries and the underlying policy actions
    Mads Fischer-Moller
    Professor in Food Policy, Scotland Rural College, United Kingdom
•11.30 am: Farms and food literacy: our health depends on it
    Marjolein Visser
    Chair of Agroecology, Université Libre de Bruxelles, Belgium
•12.00 pm: Is inclusiveness the real challenge of sustainable urban food systems?
    Katrien Verbeke
    Social entrepreneur, Belgium
•12.30 pm: Break
•12.40 pm: Safe and sustainable food put into practice
    Luc Pussemier
    Expert in food safety, Superior Health Council, Belgium
•1.00 pm: Q&A

You can watch the webinar in full here. (Link expires 31/12/2021.)

Check out the individual clips on our YouTube channel.