Comprehensive approach to mental health

Sep 1, 2023News

In June this year, the European Commission published a statement on mental health in which it presented its plan for a comprehensive approach to mental health in Europe. Mental health is an integral part of health in general. It is influenced by various personal and external factors. In recent years, we have experienced many stressful situations – pandemics, earthquakes, increased loneliness and reduced social interactions, uncertainty about the future… Young people and children are especially vulnerable here, and Europe is witnessing the deterioration of the mental health of our younger generations. There has been an increase in the levels of loneliness and depression among young people, and they also face many other problems: anxiety, sadness, fear, self-harm, low self-esteem, abuse and eating disorders. Therefore, it is more important than ever that we take care of our mental health and the mental health of young people. In order to respond to this reality, the President of the European Commission announced a new initiative on mental health in the EU, thereby marking a turning point in the way the EU deals with mental health.

Today’s comprehensive approach to mental health calls for all sectors and relevant stakeholders to work together on tools for systemic mental health care. The press release covered many topics in the field of mental health care and prevention.

One such topic is the importance of early interventions. It has been proven that early interventions pay off more financially than treatments when the problem has already arisen. Therefore, the EU commission believes that it is very important to invest in additional research in this area so that risks and signs of mental health difficulties can be recognized better and earlier. School-based programs to promote mental health and well-being involving various actors and community services are recognized as an important part of identifying and addressing problems at an early stage. Prevention and early intervention by professionals who are in contact with children and youth, such as teachers, can promote mental health resilience in children and young people and mitigate potential negative consequences, especially by giving students a voice. Schools are an ideal place where we can teach children emotion regulation skills, develop their understanding of mental health, empathy, confidence or self-esteem. All of this requires appropriately trained staff and is a worthwhile investment that can help reduce the stigma around mental health issues and build a more resilient and cohesive society. Arts and culture are also recognized as an important part of promoting positive mental health and well-being for individuals and society in general in ways that support social inclusion and reduce the stigma of mental health.

Any type of discrimination is a consequence of poor mental health and that is why promoting equality is an important prevention tool. Member States are invited to cooperate with each other and to implement initiatives and best practices in mental health promotion and prevention, to address inequalities and stigmas, discrimination, hate speech and violence, and to ensure adequate training of the health and social workforce in the promotion of mental health.

The positive impact of nature on mental health and the negative impact of pollution were mentioned. The goals and actions addressed within the European Green Plan have a positive impact on physical and mental health.

Finally, we would like to point out that there are specific risks related to serious negative effects on physical and mental health caused by the use of digital services, the use of which has increased during the pandemic. The commission announced a series of initiatives that would focus on solving this problem. Member States are urged to adopt an approach that promotes mental health in all policies. A special focus should be placed on promotion, prevention, early intervention, solving the problem of stigma and ensuring the social inclusion of people living with mental health problems. “Let’s Talk” consortium is glad that such an initiative has been launched, which approaches mental health in a comprehensive, interdisciplinary and effective way, and that focus and importance is placed on this area.

If you are interested in more, you can find the entire press release at this link.