13 June 2023

The European Parliament Coalition for Mental Health and Wellbeing reacts

The European Parliament Coalition for Mental Health and Wellbeing welcomes the European Commission Communication on a comprehensive approach to mental health. Launched on 7 June, in the wake of Mental Health Awareness Month and European Mental Health Week, the announcement marks a significant milestone as the first of its kind on mental health by the European Union.


From the outset, members of the European Parliament Coalition for Mental Health and Wellbeing actively participated  by calling for concrete action on mental health during plenary debates and meetings, and jointly responding to the initiative call for evidence and liaising with key stakeholders.


The Coalition is pleased to see the emphasis on mental health socio-economic and environmental determinants, which we have firmly insisted is necessary to address structural barriers and provide tailored support. The Coalition’s call for mental health to be included in all EU policies has been incorporated into the communication, including coordinated efforts, within and beyond the health system.


Moreover, the Coalition recognises the increased attention in the Communication on the importance of promotion, prevention, early interventions, addressing stigma and ensuring social inclusion of people living with mental health problems. We applaud the European Commission for ensuring the initiative focuses not only on wellbeing and prevention but also a clear link to the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UN CRPD) and having an approach extending beyond health.


In particular, the Coalition is delighted to see the great emphasis and action to support people in vulnerable situations who are disproportionately impacted by mental health problems, including children and young people, people in rural areas, older people, LGBTQIA+ communities, and people with disabilities. The Communication recognised whilst certain groups are more likely to bear an unequal burden, they are also less likely to receive tailored mental health support. While we commend the Commission on mentioning people in vulnerable situations and flagship initiatives centred around awareness raising, there needs to be more reference to concrete actions or resources for helping those most in need. Furthermore, while applauding the EU’s commitment to Ukrainian migrants, we express surprise at the limited reference to other refugees and migrants.


Regarding mental health support services, the Coalition commends technical assistance for mental health reforms across several sectors to enhance the availability and affordability of cross-sectoral services. On the contrary, there is no mention of the evaluation of national health services’ capacity to address mental health, following a survey developed in cooperation with the WHO, despite its mention by Commissioner Kyriakides in March 2023.


The Coalition and European Parliament have long been calling for an intersectional European Mental Health Strategy with comprehensive objectives, clearly established benchmarks and indicators, as well as an adequate budget allocated for its implementation. In this sense, we are dissatisfied with the lack of reference to the EU’s plans in developing a long-term European Mental Health Strategy.


Moreover, while the European Year of Skills and Year of Youth were highlighted, we find it disappointing that the initiative includes no plans for a dedicated European Year for Mental Health to strengthen implementation efforts. Finally, we appreciate the allocation of €1.23 billion in funding for mental health and the introduction of 20 flagship initiatives. However, we maintain our call for more consistent funding for mental health considering the total budget dedicated to the EU4 Health Union.


In summary, the European Parliament Coalition for Mental Health and Wellbeing warmly welcomes the Communication on a comprehensive approach to mental health. As mentioned, the initiative is a first and vital step to put mental health on par with physical health and to ensure a new, cross-sectoral approach to mental health issues. We are eager to see how the communication is implemented to guarantee long-term, comprehensive, and coordinated action among EU Member States on mental health. The Coalition remains committed to offering support and monitoring progress towards this important goal.

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