30 November 2023

Council Conclusions on mental health

Mental Health Europe’s reaction 


On 30 November, the Council of the European Union approved conclusions on mental health. 


The set of draft Council Conclusions had been submitted by the Spanish Presidency to the Working Party on Public Health in September, following the publication of the Commission communication on “A comprehensive approach to Mental Health” on 7 June 2023. This is one of four sets of conclusions aimed to prioritise mental health and wellbeing across the European Union (EU). 


Mental Health Europe welcomes the Spanish Presidency’s commitment to improve mental health of the European population. We are delighted to see that many of the elements we have been advocating for over the last years have been taken into account by the Council. 


Mental Health long-term action plan  


Mental Health Europe’s main recommendation has been, for a long time, to develop a European Mental Health Strategy, with a clear timeline, adequate budget, objectives, as well as indicators to monitor progress. Hence, we positively value the Council recommendation to the EU and the Member States (MS) to continue moving towards a comprehensive approach to mental health in 2024 and beyond. We are particularly pleased to see the recommendations to the European Commission (EC) to present an overview document including a timetable for each flagship initiative and the allocated financial budget and to monitor and analyse the effectiveness of the implementation of the flagship initiatives.  


Human rights focus  


We praise the recognition that the right to health includes the right to mental health and the clear reference to the need to implement the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, by evaluating the human rights compliance of mental health services. 


Mental health in all policies  


We commend the acknowledgement that mental health is shaped by environmental, socio-economic and commercial determinants and the recognition that mental health problems can only be addressed with an integrated, multidisciplinary approach. We welcome the explicit reference to the significance of addressing inequalities and discrimination as tool to prevent mental health problems.   




We commend the recommendation to the European Commission and the Member States to recognise and promote the active participation of people with lived experience and integrate existing and new knowledge into multidisciplinary training, mental health reforms, research and policy development. We also welcome the recommendation to ensure the cooperation of key stakeholders of society, including the public, non-governmental/civil society, and private sectors. 


Breaking stigma and end discrimination 


We support the recommendation to dedicate an EU year to mental health, as well as to improve mental health literacy across the population.   


Mental Health Europe agrees with all the recommendations, with a cautionary word when it comes to “reintegration” of people into society, in the workforce and decision-making processes for mental health policies. We recognise that reintegration into society after recovery is one of the three pillars of the EC Communication on a comprehensive approach to mental health. Nonetheless, we believe it is important to avoid considering exclusion from society as inevitable and rather focus on providing support to remove structural barriers and make sure people remain part of society through their recovery path. 


We would have appreciated a recommendation on the introduction of a mental health impact assessment, to evaluate the effect of different EU actions, policies and funding programmes on mental health. Similarly, we regret the lack of a reference to potential conflicts of interest and/or industrial interests when dealing with stakeholders.  


Overall, Mental Health Europe welcomes the Spanish Presidency’s commitment to promoting mental health in all policies. We remain available to further strengthen our collaboration with future presidencies to work towards long-term discussions with the Council and relevant stakeholders to ensure that the spotlight on mental health will continue to shine and everybody in Europe will be able to thrive.  




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