Guest blog | Marcin Rodzinka, Advocacy & Policy Officer, Mental Health Europe
More than four months have passed since the Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs Council (EPSCO) Conclusions on the Economy of Well-being invited the European Commission to “propose a Mental Health Strategy for the Union, taking into account the cross-sectoral impacts of different policies on mental health.” So far, the Commission has not taken any specific steps to develop such a plan. The fact that the Commission does not intend to work on it in the nearest future neither has been revealed in the recently published Commission 2020 Work Programme.
To remind the EU policy makers of their primary obligations, civil society and the European Parliament have sent a clear message to Commissioner Kyriakides urging her to initiate work on a mental health strategy.
Why Europe needs a strategy for mental health and wellbeing?
The numbers speak volumes showing the scale of the problem in the EU. Mental Health Europe’s (MHE) latest report shows that despite promising progress in the area of mental health at the national level, better coordination, support and mapping at the European level are needed. There is also a need to better align Member States’ initiatives with international obligations of the EU such as the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities or the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Individual and isolated actions cannot be considered as an efficient and sustainable solution for a wide-spread, European challenge, with consequences spanning from social exclusion to financial loss. A political momentum cannot be translated into concrete policy initiatives and legislative reforms without coordination and concerted action. There is a need for a European Mental Health Strategy led and coordinated by the European Union to ensure social cohesion and sustainable development.
But how to do it without mistakes? Five elements for a strong mental health strategy
Building on 35 years of action in the European arena, MHE has identified the following five key elements to be included in a mental health strategy:
- psychosocial approach to mental health
- meaningful (ex)users’ involvement
- mental health in all policies
- concrete objectives and resources
- coherence with other policy tools and commitments.
By developing a European strategy for mental health and wellbeing, the EU can improve the lives of millions of Europeans – both those affected by mental ill-health, their families and friends – and contribute to inclusive and cohesive societies, a stronger economy, and development that is both sustainable and fair.