Today, on the occasion of the informal EPSCO Council, 6 organisations, active in the area of mental health representing mental health professionals, patients, carers and brain researchers, are calling on the Spanish Presidency to consider proposing concrete EU-level action on mental health (a joint letter to the Spanish Presidency can be found here)
This call is issued against the background of the recent Commission Communication entitled ‘A comprehensive approach to mental health’, adopted on 7 June; this provides the right context for in-depth reflection on what would be required to improve mental health and prevent mental ill-health on the ground. Action is clearly needed, as currently, in the EU, one in four people is affected by mental health issues.
While the signatory organisations have welcomed the Communication as it signifies an explicit commitment to addressing mental health inclusively and holistically, it is felt that the initiative could be taken one step further to ensure that it will indeed trigger the required action.
More specifically, the organisations ask the Council to call on the Commission to come forward with a proposal for Member States to put in place national action programmes on mental health and well-being. These action plans should strive to address the full range of mental (ill) health-related priorities, i.e. prevention of mental ill health, good mental health promotion , treatment, care and cure, and should be coordinated at the EU level.
‘This request is not without precedent’, says GAMIAN-Europe President Péter Kéri. ‘It is based on the 2013 Council Conclusions inviting Member States to develop strategies and/or action plans on mental health’. National action programmes have also been successfully put in place in the areas of rare disorders and cancer.
‘The Council should consider novel ideas when tackling mental health’ adds Suzanne Dickson, President of the European Brain Council. ‘The establishment of an EU Policy Lab for mental health – recently presented at a European Parliament public hearing on EU action on mental health and warmly welcomed by MEPs present, could be such an idea.
The signatory organisations offer their support and collaboration in developing the aims, framework and content for the national action programmes. In addition, they look forward to the Council’s support of their proposal, involving all relevant players in order to collectively shape the required answers to this major societal challenge.