"Health care that takes full account of what it means to be human"

This individualized approach may even help to cut health care expenditure. Consider, for instance, the cost of endless attempts to lead a life without pain. These were the views expressed by Ernst Bohlmeijer on the occasion of his inauguration as Professor of Mental Health Promotion, on Thursday 12 January 2012.

Current treatment is mainly aimed at reducing patients’ psychological symptoms. Patient-oriented therapies have traditionally been based on the medical model, and are easy to validate. This is much more difficult in the case of individualized therapy, which involves questions such as “what sort of person do I want to be?”. What makes life meaningful for me? Prof. Bohlmeijer explains “My mental health care model is based on achieving an effective balance between the patient-oriented approach and the individualized approach. I argue in favour of a broad view of mental health, in which investing in people’s “self sufficiency” is not a luxury but a necessity. Those with a clearer idea of who they want to be are more resilient and, as a result, less dependent on care.”

A specific example of the personal approach championed by Ernst Bohlmeijer is the “Op Verhaal Komen” (Recovery Through Storytelling) course that he helped to develop. This course for people with mild depression is now being given at twenty different mental health centres. Prof. Bohlmeijer takes the view that “Every person, every life is a story. Autobiographical reflection gives people insight into their skills, and into what really makes them tick. In this way they are given the tools they need to overcome their own problems.”

Ernst Bohlmeijer is not alone in his views about the individualized approach to patients. This is reflected by the fact that, in recent years, an increasing range of treatments have been developed that are very much in keeping with his broad understanding of mental health care. Prof. Bohlmeijer’s agenda specifically includes a role for technology. In recent years, technology has played an ever greater part in mental health care. In this connection, he cites “Voluit Leven” (Living Life To The Full), an online programme in which patients receive support in the form of text messages.

About Prof. Ernst Bohlmeijer:
As the Professor of Mental Health Promotion, Ernst Bohlmeijer is associated with the Psychology programme at the Faculty of Behavioural Sciences. His interests lie in the areas of contextual psychology, narrative psychology, and psychology and the art of living. In addition to numerous articles, he has published six books, including “Psychology and the Art of Living” (2011). Prof. E.T. Bohlmeijer delivered his inaugural speech at 16:00 on Thursday 12 January, in the Professor M.P. Breedveld room in the Waaier building at the University of Twente.

Note to the press:
For further information, members of the press should contact Martine van Hillegersberg, Communication Advisor, UT Press Relations Division. The inaugural speech “Eudaimonia. Voer voor psychologen.” (Eudaimonia. Grist to the psychologist’s mill) is available in digital format on request.