20 May 2020

New European health programme: Let’s make it work for mental health

On Friday, 15 May 2020, the European Parliament adopted a resolution on the new budget of the European Union (EU) for the 2021-2027 period, the Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF). The resolution also addressed the EU budget own resources and Covid-19 Recovery Plan. Following the adoption of the resolution, President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen announced the creation of a new standalone Health Programme within the framework of a new MFF. This is a change of the initial MFF agreement where the Health Programme was foreseen to be a part of a broader social fund with no dedicate features.


MHE welcomes this announcement and calls for the adequate inclusion of mental health in the next Health Programme within 2021-2027 EU budget.


As President von der Leyen pointed out in her speech, the creation of a new dedicated Health Programme is one of the most immediate lessons learnt from the COVID-19 crisis. Another lesson learnt is the importance of promoting and protecting the mental health of every individual. Current pandemic is negatively impacting the mental well-being of all and pinpoints the social determinants influencing our mental health. These factors need to be properly addressed with both rapid response and long-term funding instruments.


As rightly stated in the resolution adopted by the European Parliament, the COVID-19 recovery efforts need to have a strong social dimension and be aligned with the objectives of the European Pillar of Social Rights and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). To add to this, we cannot forget the obligations of the European Union under the United Nations Convention of the Rights of People with Disabilities (UN CRPD) as a crucial aspect to include in the recovery process.


The Health Programme should be an opportunity to address the range of social determinants of mental health in Europe. This can be only possible if the programme is adequately resourced and developed in a close collaboration with civil society organisations and organisations representing persons with mental health problems and users of mental health services.


Future Health Programme should address social and economic inequalities and the needs of individuals that have been affected by the crisis, including people with psychosocial disabilities.


We cannot afford to lose this opportunity.



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