In the last years, mental health has increasingly been recognised as a subject of interest beyond the health-specific sector. As the understanding of mental health and mental health problems has become more broaden and complex, there is more awareness of the fact that mental health touches upon much more than the disease or absence of it, but is “a state of well-being in which an individual realizes his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and is able to make a contribution to his or her community.”1
Data from the European Commission and the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) shows that one in six people in Europe (84 million) have experienced mental health problems. The same report shows how socio-economic factors can have an important impact on the well-being of a person: people with lower incomes and/or unemployed, for instance, are more likely to experience mental ill-health and develop mental health problems. Additionally, having a mental health problem lowers the employment rates of a person. This data was collected and published well before the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. A 2020 report from the same bodies highlights the risks of the pandemic, in increasing mental ill-health of the European population, particularly young people and people in lower-income groups, and calls governments to promote the provision of early and fully integrated mental health services.
Article 3 of the Treaty on the European Union (EU) states that the “Union’s aim is to promote peace, its values and the well-being of its peoples,”2 thus placing the promotion of people’s well-being, including their mental health, at the centre of the EU’s policy-making and actions. Between 2004 and 2018, the EU launched a series of temporary initiatives on mental health and in December 2019 the Council Conclusions on the Economy of Well-being invited the European Commission to “propose a Mental Health Strategy for the Union, taking into account the cross-sectoral impacts of different policies on mental health.” Similarly, political groups in the European Parliament are paying more attention to mental health and have started including the issue in their programmes and positions.
Despite the increased relevance of mental health across-the-board and the political momentum, the EU does not have a plan for an integrated approach to address the mental health of its citizens. While the lack of such an approach was already a concern, the COVID-19 pandemic made it clear that the time to act is now and that mental health can no longer be overlooked.
In order to push for a European Strategy or Action Plan on mental health and contribute to its content, Mental Health Europe (MHE) has set up an Advocacy Platform and joined forces with various stakeholders to collaborate in the years to come.
Who can join the Platform?
The Mental Health Advocacy Platform is open to all the European and national organisations for which mental health, including its socio-economic determinants, is a topic of relevance. This includes, but is not limited to non-governmental organisations representing various stakeholders (i.e. users of mental health services, service providers, professionals, rights holders, people in disadvantaged situations, families and carers, etc..), universities and research institutes, public health institutes and authorities.
In order to maintain the Platform’s independence from financial and business interests, organisations that wish to join the Platform should have in place a code of conduct or internal policies detailing their approach and relationship with industries, in particular pharmaceutical companies.
Why should you join the Platform?
Mental health is an aspect that can positively or negatively influence every person. Its determinants are rooted in socio-economic inequalities and injustice that create exclusion, barriers and disadvantages. Mental health is therefore not only an issue that should matter for people with existing mental health problems, but it concerns everyone: from individuals in their personal capacities and persons at risks to those in charge of service provisions, without forgetting authorities and policy-makers. Poor mental health can have long-lasting consequences on the growth, cohesion and sustainability of communities and states.
The Mental Health Advocacy Platform aims to address all of these issues and work towards an integrated approach that promotes mental health and prevents mental health problems, while also looking at addressing its root causes and the benefits that will positively impact society at large and economies.
Joining the Platform would be an opportunity for your organisation to ensure that the needs and challenges of the stakeholders you represent are heard, taken into account and addressed.
What to expect from the Platform?
By joining the Platform, your organisation can expect to:
- Collaborate with different stakeholders to reach common goals and objectives;
- Strategize on advocacy efforts and activities;
- Build alliances to strengthen your message and objectives;
- Ensure that your messages and priorities are integrated into upcoming European initiatives related to mental health;
- Mutually share knowledge and intelligence to advance the Platform’s priorities, as well as those of your organisations;
- Provide expert advice and recommendations to policy-makers;
- Collectively advocate for a comprehensive and strong European Strategy or Action Plan on mental health, through facilitating debates and discussions on this topic among EU institutions
Please note that this list is currently under discussion.
1 – WHO definition of mental health, available at: www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/mental-health-strengthening-our-response.
2 – European Union, Consolidated version of the Treaty on European Union, 13 December 2007, 2008/C 115/01, available at: www.refworld.org/docid/4b179f222.html.