Fesat European Foundation of Drug Helpines
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Vanderlindenstraat 15
1030 Brussels, Belgium

What is

  • is a network which currently joins together about 50 European drug helpline services
  • has a charter setting out the ethical principles to which all members of the Foundation adhere
  • has representatives from the Member States of the European Union on its Board ,who are experts in drug helpline work

SKEPDAH Partners meet on Dual Diagnosis and Helpline Work

With the SKEPDAH project more than halfway by now, the time had come for the 9 partners to focus on the third topic. That's how Brussels saw the last of three thematical Transnational Learning Exchange Partner Meeting on February 19th and 20th 2018. VAD/De DrugLijn hosted this event that focussed on the challenge on how to deal with "Dual Diagnosis and Helpline work".

What is SKEPDAH exactly?

SKEPDAH stands for Skills and Knowledge Exchange Project for Drug and Alcohol Helplines. It is a so-called KA2 Strategic Partnership under the Erasmus+ program running from January 2017 to August 2018. During this project eight Eight Drug and Alcohol Helplines involved in FESAT (representing Ireland, Belgium, Bulgaria, Portugal, Cyprus, Norway, The Netherlands and Germany) and a British training institute will have transnational meetings to exchange know-how and skills. The project focusses on three topics that are currently challenging Drug Helpline workers throughout Europe: helpline skills and risk of burn out; dealing with NPS (New Psychoactive Substances) and managing Dual Diagnoses at the Helpline. The meetings and exchanges will lead to curriculae on each of these topics that will hopefully inspire others beyond the project to integrate them in their lifelong learning activities. 

Dual Diagnosis or Mental Health?

The occurance of alcohol and drugs along with existing mental health problems is of all times. Although there are many issues around cause and effect, self-medicating etc. it is clear that the topic comes up repeatedly for Drug and Alcohol Helpline workers. Challenges then arise in how to deal most appropriately with callers who present co-occurring mental health symptoms and active drug or alcohol use. Helpline workers offer support to these callers but can be challenged by their presentation, the lack of information, the fact that they are not medical or mental health specialist services.
This was confiirmed by the short introductory presentations from all helpline partners highlighting how they face the challenges helping service users who have diagnosed and ndiagnosed mental health issues and are also using drugs or alcohol.
Philip James, who is a clinical nurse specialist 
Ireland. brought in his expertise from working in an Adolescent Addiction Service inwith young people in Ireland and gave a presentation that touched on several dimensions, bringing particular focus to the topics complexities.  

Brussels Group


Working on a third Curriculum

Just as with the previous Transnational Meetings and before, during and even after the two days in Brussels, lots of information was exchanged on resources and best practices on the topic of Subtance Use and Mental Health problems.  
A fair amount of time was spent of designing a first draft for a Curriculum. This work will be ongoing in the weeks to come. Simultaniously some partners will engage in training with their Helpline workers with reference to this curriculum and will feedback any learnings back to the partners.
The key learnings and the final curriculae will also be disseminated via our website by the time SKEPDAH comes to an end. First of all however, the project will see one final gathering. In June SKEPDAH will have it's Dissemination meeting in Larnaca. The focus there will of course be on what we have a achieved as a project and how SKEPDAH helped us gain skills and knowledge as drug helpline workers.
"I think the meeting helped to put the topic [of Dual Diagnosis] on the agenda of our own service.
It inspired me to build some capacity on the topic within our team and to finetune our policy bases on what we've learned."
- a participant to the meeting in Brussels 
Read more about this meeting and download the full report here.   
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