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Act-Belong-Commit partnership on mental health promotion to be highlighted as best practice in European Commission ‘online marketplace’

By Rachel Payne and Hilal Erkoca Mølgaard, ISCA, and Hanna Christensen, DGI

The European Commission’s Directorate-General for Health and Food Safety (DG SANTE) has selected the Danish Act-Belong-Commit (ABC or ABCs of Mental Health) partnership as one of 27 best practices that will be highlighted in its online ‘Marketplace on best and promising practices on mental health’ on Tuesday 12 March. Project Manager Hanna Christensen will present the ABC initiative on behalf of DGI and the University of Copenhagen’s Department of Psychology, which have translated and successfully rolled out the Australian Act Belong Commit model in Denmark.

As part of a European Commission Communication adopted in June 2023 to promote “a comprehensive, prevention-oriented and multi-stakeholder approach to mental health”, the Commission called for “best and promising practices focusing on mental health promotion, prevention, and early detection and intervention” to apply to present their initiatives to EU Member State representatives in the online marketplace. These representatives will have the opportunity to ask the presenters about the potential of wider implementation of the selected initiatives in Europe.

Act-Belong-Commit is an evidence-based campaign focusing on promoting mental health and wellbeing at the individual, community, and societal levels. ABC boils research on what promotes mental health down to three action-oriented messages: Act: Keep physically, mentally, socially, and spiritually active. Belong: Keep up friendships, close social ties and engage in group activities. Commit: Set goals and challenges, and engage in activities that provide meaning and purpose in life. The campaign started in Perth, Western Australia (WA), as a joint effort from Curtin University, Mentally Healthy WA and the WA State Government to mainstream mental health promotion in the community, reduce stigma and highlight practical ways of providing supportive environments in both work and recreational settings.

The Danish ABC initiative’s goals are to improve mental health among the Danish public by developing a national, inter-sectoral partnership that uses social franchising to promote mental health at the individual, community, and societal level; developing a ‘shared/common language’ for mental health promotion that makes mental health important to everyone; creating a mental health promotion campaign to increase mental health literacy; and putting mental health promotion on the political agenda. DGI’s goal, as an umbrella organisation for sports associations across Denmark is to use the ABC approach to create mentally healthy and inclusive sports communities.

The DGI-University of Copenhagen’s ABC partnership is an award-winning initiative in Denmark, having received the Public Health Prize for projects that have made significant differences in the Public Health landscape. Within DGI, over 7000 participants from sports communities across Denmark have participated in ABC workshops to this date, plus more than 800 sport clubs. More than 180 people are now trained ABC instructors. Politically, ABC and mental health have become a prioritised focus area within DGI.

About ABC in Danish and in English

Recap: Hanna Christensen and Lone Brink Rasmussen (Project Leader and Consultant at DGI) give a walk-through of the ABC initiative in Denmark in our ISCA Health webinar

Find out more about ABC in the ISCA Health toolkit ‘Physical activity for mental wellbeing

Photo: Frank Brahe, DGI

Posted on 11/03/2024 by Rachel Payne and Hilal Erkoca Mølgaard, ISCA, and Hanna Christensen, DGI


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