A systems-approach that addresses the structural determinants of mental health, must be put at the forefront and be embedded into an action framework for Member States that extends beyond current, largely fragmented initiatives for mental health.
On 7 June 2023, the European Commission launched its first-ever vision for an EU comprehensive approach to mental health. It acknowledges that mental health is an integral part of overall health, with an impact on all aspects of a person’s life, including on family, friends, and co-workers and sets a long-awaited common ground for EU-wide action across diverse sectors.
EuroHealthNet welcomes this move as it represents a significant first step towards better mental health for all in all policies and applauds the European Commission for identifying this initiative as the final building block of the European Health Union.
There is no health without mental health and there can be no European Health Union without equal and timely access to prevention, treatment and care for our mental health.
Commissioner for Health and Food Safety
Ongoing initiatives are in progress, and the Communication provides a useful summary of all the actions already taken and those promised to be taken in the future (via 20 so-called Flagship Initiatives). However, it remains to be seen how all these efforts could work in unison, leading to an overarching strategic approach, and include commitments to concrete, measurable objectives.
EuroHealthNet followed the development of the initiative from its inception, through participation in diverse high-level policy meetings, coordination with our Members and partners, as well as contribution to the European Commission public consultation. EuroHealthNet’s key recommendations have been to propose an EU Directive on psychosocial risk at work and to develop an EU-wide strategy on mental health and psychosocial wellbeing. This strategy should root in time-bound targets, assigned budget, and outcome monitoring of a coherent set of actions that all EU Member States agree to work towards. The EU-wide strategy could be further operationalised via national action plans, periodically reviewed and updated if appropriate.
EuroHealthNet applauds the acknowledgement of mental health as central to the lives of all European citizens and the dedication to eradicate stigma, inequality, and discrimination. The Communication outlines major aspects of promoting and protecting mental health across sectors and in whole of society.
Bold decisions are now needed on how to move forward, building capacities and enabling spaces to engage for (sub)national authorities, stakeholders, communities and people with lived experience themselves.
Policy Manager at EuroHealthNet
The Communication is very welcome in its approach to considering the structural determinants that shape mental health outcomes by advocating for mental health promotion and prevention of mental ill-health in different settings and across the life course. It’s important that there is a shared vision for population mental health, shared defined goals for the different initiatives in this Communication.
Laura Shields Zeeman
Head Public Mental Health and Prevention
The Trimbos Institute, the Netherlands