A comprehensive approach to mental health: the plan of the European Commission is out


On 7 June 2023 the European Commission released its plan for a comprehensive approach to mental health in Europe. The plan includes 20 flagship initiatives and EU funding (€1.23 billion) to support Member States in “putting people and their mental health first”.

The pandemic and the successive crises experienced over the past years have undermined the mental health of the population throughout Europe. With its new initiative, the European Commission wants to make a step to put mental health on par with physical health and to ensure a new, cross sectoral approach to mental health issues.

Improving prevention, access & follow-up

This plan follows three guiding principles:

  • adequate and effective prevention,
  • access to high quality and affordable mental healthcare and treatment,
  • reintegration into society after recovery.

The initiative of the European Commission plans efforts to:

  • Promote good mental health through prevention and early detection, including through a European depression and suicide prevention initiative, a European Code for Mental Health and strengthened research on brain health.
  • Invest in training and capacity building that reinforces mental health across policies and improves access to treatment and care.
  • Ensure good mental health at work by raising awareness and improving prevention. This will be done for instance through EU-wide awareness raising campaigns by the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work (EU-OSHA) and a possible future EU initiative on psycho-social risks at work.
  • Protect children and the young during their most vulnerable and formative years, in a context of increasing pressures and challenges. Measures include a a child and youth mental health network, a prevention toolkit for children addressing the key health determinants of mental and physical health, and better protection online and on social media.
  • Address vulnerable groups by providing targeted support to those most in need, such as older people, people in difficult economic or social situations and migrant/refugee populations.
  • Lead by example at the international level by raising awareness and providing quality mental health support in humanitarian emergencies.

The initiative of the European Commission recognises the importance of addressing inequalities and discrimination through intersectionality and tailored support, particularly for people in vulnerable situations: children and young people, women, older people, migrants, LGBTQ+, people experiencing homelessness, Roma communities, people in rural areas. It is also fully aligned with the Disability Rights Strategy and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities, showing the strong commitment of the EU to human rights.

AGE contribution

The release of this plan follows a consultation launched by the European Commission at the beginning of this year. AGE replied to this consultation, insisting on the importance of a rights-based and life-course approach to mental health and its integration across all EU policies (read on our contribution here). We will continue to analyse this plan and to work in close cooperation with European Commissions’ services and leading organisations such as Mental Health Europe.

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