Brussels, 23 March 2021
In a meeting of the MEP Alliance for Mental Health, held today, some 100 representatives of interested EU and national level organisations and MEPs underlined the need and voiced their support for a dedicated European Year for Mental Health, to be instigated in the short term.
Background to this event, organised by GAMIAN-Europe, is the fact that mental health and related policy still are a relatively low policy priority, despite its huge prevalence, cost and impact – on individuals, families and carers, health and social systems, employers, communities and the economy as a whole.
In addition, the EU level is not following through its previous ‘specific’ mental health approach and is now treating mental health as part of its general actions on chronic conditions.
The meeting was the follow up to a smaller event, held in November, in which the idea for a European Year was explored by leading EU-wide mental health-related organisations. This led to the elaboration of a discussion paper which served as the background for today’s discussions.
Maria Walsh MEP, co-chair of the MEP Alliance for Mental Health already stated her intention to campaign for such a Year during and after the 2019 European elections; in today’s meeting she underlined that ‘ there is an urgent need to ensure awareness – with policymakers, service providers, the general public – of the importance of mental health in all its aspects, ranging from prevention, to diagnosis, treatment, care and cure. She stated that ‘the time is now to make mental health everybody’s business as the current COVID-19 pandemic truly puts the spotlight on the huge importance of mental health and well-being’.
The Year would have a general, population mental health focus as well as well as aim to increase the understanding of the specific needs of patients and groups at risk.
MEPs Estrella Dura Ferrandis, Radka Maxova, Alex Agius Saliba, Tomas Zdechovsky, Juozas Olekas, Luisa Regimenti, Josiane Cutajar, Stelios Kympouropoulos and Alviina Alametsa all expressed their commitment to advocating for a European Year, ensuring that it becomes a reality.
‘We need a better and wider understanding of the importance and impact of mental health as wellas effective policy, practice and services in this area’, Maria Walsh MEP said. ‘We can improve people’s well-being while ultimately saving resources. The time is now to make mental health everybody’s business as the current COVID-19 pandemic truly puts the spotlight on the huge importance of mental health and well-being’.
The results of today’s discussion will feed into the development of a comprehensive campaign plan and decisions on aims, potential themes, activities and structure of a European Year for Mental Health.