Citizens often turn to the European Parliament to ask what the European Union does to support mental health. Policies and services addressing mental health are the responsibility of individual EU countries. However, the need to include support for good mental health remains among the priorities on the public health agenda at EU level.
Action taken by Parliament
Members of the European Parliament have posted numerous parliamentary questions to the European Commission on this subject.
In a question of April 2020, a Member asked when the Commission intends to put an EU Mental Health Strategy in place. The Commission replied, inter alia, that good mental health is a priority topic for the Steering Group on Health Promotion, Disease Prevention and Management of Non-Communicable Diseases. As a reply to a follow-up question in August 2020, the Commission added that it acknowledges the high importance of mental health, as a result of the coronavirus pandemic and ‘has taken additional steps to strengthen mental health in all policies approach, both via creating synergies within the Commission as well as through its support for stakeholders’.
Some Members have joined together to form platforms promoting mental health. Examples include the Coalition for Mental Health and Wellbeing in the European Parliament, a group amplifying the voices of people with mental health problems and advocating for a coordinated response on the determinants of mental health, or the MEP Alliance for Mental Health, a platform bringing together Members and stakeholders to promote EU policies in the field of mental illness.
Mental health during the coronavirus pandemic
EU4Health is the EU’s response to coronavirus. It will provide funding to EU countries, health organisations and NGOs. Funding will be open for applications in 2021. The programme describes mental health as one of the challenges in health security and health systems.
The Commission has created an interactive tool, the EU Health Policy Platform, to facilitate knowledge exchange and develop guidance on public health. The tool addresses many of the concerns related to mental health and specifically consequences of the coronavirus pandemic.
In a resolution of July 2020 on the EU’s public health strategy post-coronavirus, the European Parliament calls for a 2021‑2027 EU action plan on mental health, with equal attention being paid to the biomedical and psychosocial factors of poor mental health.
Another July 2020 resolution brings up the rights of persons with intellectual disabilities and their families during the coronavirus crisis. It recalls, inter alia, that a lockdown is a serious problem for persons with intellectual disabilities, as well as for every person with a mental illness, since isolation can aggravate problems.
- Mental health, European Commission website
- Mental health and the pandemic, Briefing, European Parliament Research Service (EPRS), July 2021
- People living with depression, What Europe does for me (EPRS)
- Spotlight on mental health in Europe, At a glance, European Parliament Research Service (EPRS), October 2016
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