European Parliament

MEP Alliance for Mental Health

MEP Alliance for Mental Health
Organised by GAMIAN-Europe

16 October 2019
European Parliament, Brussels
 

 

In a meeting, held in the European Parliament on October 16th, some 120 representatives of health-related organisations and policy institutions voiced their support for concrete EU-level action in the field of mental health. The meeting, organised by the MEP Alliance for Mental Health and the Global Alliance of Mental Illness Advocacy Networks (GAMIAN-Europe), provided the opportunity for an exchange and sharing of mental health priorities and ideas and concrete proposals of how the EU-level can address these. 

Background to the meeting is the decreasing EU-level focus on mental health – at a time when this topic should be considered a health priority.

In the recent past, the Commission actively promoted the slogan ‘no health without mental health’, and committed to a number of successive specific actions on mental health, such as the 2013 Joint Action on Mental health and Well-being. However, since then, no specific follow-up actions have been proposed. Instead, mental health is now a part of the Commission’s wider activities in the field of chronic disease.

The MEP Alliance for Mental Health aims to change this; mental health should be considered as important as physical health and treating it as part of the wider chronic disease agenda will not help to address the urgent and crucial need for better mental health across the board.

This is why this first meeting of the Alliance (active as the European Parliament Interest Group on Mental Health, Well-being and Brain Disorders for the last 10 years) took the format of a ‘hearing’, in which concrete proposals for EU-level action were gathered.

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These will also serve as guidance for the work of the Alliance for the current Parliamentary term. Tomas Zdechovsky MEP, long-standing mental health champion, Alliance co-chair and host of the event, underlined the open nature of the Alliance, stating that ‘it should be a platform for all those that want to strengthen the voice of the mental health sector. This hearing serves a clear example of this openness.’

Some 15 organisations took the floor as speakers and many others contributed their ideas during the audience debate. Apart from important mental health themes and condition-specific issues, many valuable proposals for EU-level action were formulated and responded to by MEPs as well as representatives of the European Commission (DG Santé). Representing the Finnish Presidency, Pasi Mustonen stated that ‘strong mental health is the capital we build on in the future. We should put people in the centre of policymaking; Finland is committed to take part in this action’. He also referred to the upcoming Presidency conclusions, which will invite the Commission to come forward with a comprehensive strategy on mental health.

Many of the 26 MEPs supporting the MEP Alliance for Mental Health were present and underlined their commitment to stimulate EU-level activities.

Without mental health we can’t have a solid health base’, co-chair Maria Walsh MEP argued. ‘Mental health goes across all borders, all colours; it’s our citizens that are at risk if we don’t get this right’.

Co-chair Alex Agius Saliba MEP underlined the ‘need for a holistic approach across the society, with a special focus on prevention – specially to avoid mental ill health in young people. Mental health should be mainstreamed across all relevant policy areas’.

Co-chair Rory Palmer MEP stated that ‘it is incumbent on this Alliance and on all of us who care about mental health and well-being at EU level  to be as strategic as we can and go to the new Commission with a very clear set of asks and demands’ .

Many actions were proposed by participating organisations and MEPs, including the need for a comprehensive EU Action Programme on Mental Health – similar to current EU-level programmes on cancer, rare disorders and disability.

Karkkainen, President of GAMIAN-Europe and coordinator of the MEP Alliance for Mental Health, underlined that ‘the EU level can help disseminate good practice, and pay attention to the impact of all its policies on mental health. It can mainstream mental health into EU policy development. It can provide financial support to relevant initiatives. And it can support data collection and research’.

A full meeting report is being prepared and will be posted on the GAMIAN-Europe website in the coming weeks. 

Notes for editors

  1. Some more information on the MEP Alliance for Mental Health:

The MEP Alliance for Mental Health (established in 2009 as the European Parliament Interest Group on Mental Health, Wellbeing and Brain Disorders) aims to bring together MEPs and relevant stakeholders advocate the development of sound EU policies which contribute to the prevention of mental ill health and ensure appropriate and high quality services and person-centred care, empowering those affected.

The Group meets 2-3 times a year; these meetings provide an opportunity to underline the need for and propose EU-level activities to take the field of mental health into account in a variety of areas and plan advocacy activities. The secretariat for this Group is being provided by GAMIAN-Europe.

Have a look at the current supporter MEPs here.

  1. A blueprint for an EU-level Action Programme

Click here to read more.

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