Improve access to mental health services in the EU, especially for vulnerable groups
Better awareness raising and communication needed to destigmatise mental health
Over 150 million Europeans are estimated to live with a mental health condition
MEPs adopted their recommendations on prioritising mental health, as an integral part of a person’s health, in EU and national policies.
The report, prepared by the Subcommittee on Public Health, was adopted with 59 votes in favour, six against and four abstentions. MEPs call on the Commission to draw up a long-term, comprehensive and integrated EU Mental Health Strategy, building on the recent communication, and on national governments to develop corresponding national strategies with clear timelines, adequate budgets, concrete targets and indicators to monitor progress.
Promoting mental health for all, with focus on vulnerable groups in society
MEPs highlight that mental health and well-being is shaped by a combination of socio-economic, environmental, biological and genetic factors, and that any person at any point in their life can become more susceptible to poorer mental health. A “mental-health-in-all-policies approach” is needed to prevent, address and mitigate the impact of mental health conditions, they add. The report calls on member states to prioritise and improve access to mental health services for vulnerable groups, such as children, adolescents, young adults, LGBTQIA+ persons, patients with chronic conditions and disabilities, elderly people, migrants and ethnic minorities.
Tackling discrimination, stigma and social exclusion
With mental health still stigmatised and taboo, MEPs underline that there is an urgent need to develop and implement information campaigns, raise awareness and promote open discussions of mental health conditions. The call on the Commission and EU governments to promote initiatives to combat stigma, exclusion and discrimination of people with mental health conditions, with the involvement of communities, public figures, politicians, public institutions, governments and people with lived experience.
Improving accessibility of mental health services
MEPs insist that all EU citizens must have access to the full range of quality mental health services, without financial and administrative hardship. The highlight the need to ensure further investment in public health and to address mental health workforce shortages and appropriate training.
Other key recommendations include:
ensuring a safer and healthier digital space, to prevent online hate and cyberbullying;
tackling gender inequalities and violence against women;
legislative measures on the management of psychosocial risks and well-being at work;
collecting and monitoring mental health data, as well as suicide-related data, and mapping the availability of mental health services across the EU;
ensuring sufficient funding in future financial programs such as EU4Health and Horizon Europe, as well as a Mission on Mental Health;
designating next year as the European Year of Mental Health, following proposal 9.1 of the Conference on the Future of Europe.
Rapporteur Sara Cerdas (S&D, PT) said: “Health policy often neglects addressing mental health, which is worrisome considering the steady increase in mental health conditions. Mental health is influenced by a number of determinants, including socioeconomic factors, and is interlinked with physical health. With this first Parliament report on the matter, we urge for further EU action to address these factors, investing in prevention, support and adequate treatment for people suffering from mental health conditions and reinforcing resilience of mental health for all.”
The report is expected to be adopted in plenary in December 2023.
On 7 June 2023, the Commission adopted the Communication on a comprehensive approach to mental health. It introduces 20 flagship initiatives and a holistic approach to mental health, based on adequate and effective prevention, access to high quality and affordable mental healthcare and treatment, and reintegration into society after recovery.