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Mental health care in Belgium

Aug 20, 2012

For those experiencing mental health problems, CHS offers a listening ear and practical help.

According to the World Health Organization, there is no ‘official’ definition of mental health. Problems are particular to each person and can range from loneliness or needing to share a problem through to some very serious conditions. People all over the world fall into this range of categories, and those in Belgium are no exception. 

It’s important to remember that problems can affect anyone: rich, poor, employed, unemployed, regardless of education level or nationality. For the very large number of foreign nationals in Brussels who don’t speak Dutch or French fluently, it can be even more challenging to find the courage to ask for help.

Recent headlines in the UK point to a surge in calls to mental health support lines since the onset of the economic crisis. In Belgium, an attentive ear and professional advice are readily at hand through Community Help Service (CHS). CHS is a non-profit organisation that provides information, support, assistance and mental health services in English to anyone in Belgium who needs help, regardless of nationality and circumstances. 

Two key parts of CHS are 

  • The Helpline, a 24/7 confidential information and crisis telephone service, staffed by a team of trained volunteers under the supervision of professional therapists.
  • The Mental Health Centre, which has a professional staff of psychologists, psychiatrists and educational specialists supported by a volunteer administrative staff.

CHS has successfully provided mental health support services in Belgium for more than 40 years and with over 50 active members is well positioned to continue to do so in the future. 

New roles

Harry Pomerantz, a long-time active professional at CHS, has recently taken over the position of clinical director. His extensive experience in the field includes running a variety of clinics in the Netherlands. Harry replaces Dr Lucy Fuks, who after many years as an energetic and committed part of CHS – the last seven as clinical director – has retired to concentrate on her private work. 

Meanwhile, Rex Parker has taken over from Nick Fern as chairman of the board. Rex brings 30 years of commercial knowledge and skill in running multicultural teams across the world. Rex and Harry’s combined experience will enable them to help CHS build on the strong organisation left by their predecessors and to take CHS to new levels of effectiveness.

If you would like to volunteer or contribute to this important and rewarding organisation in the office, on the Helpline or in some other way, call 02.647.67.80 or email

This is a guest column submitted by Community Help Service Belgium.

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Following last year’s successful inaugural baking fest, the British Chamber of Commerce’s young networking wing, Brussels New Generation, launches the 2014 Great Brussels Bake-Off on September 22.

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