At the Czech EU Presidency Conference entitled ‘Resilient Mental Health in the EU’ taking place yesterday , EFPA President Christoph Steinebach underlined the importance of ensuring attention for the mental health of the most vulnerable.
The Conference, held at a time of renewed impetus for action at EU level, aimed to explore what the EU-level should and could do to promote good mental health and to prevent mental ill health. The event coincided with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen recent announcement of a ‘comprehensive approach to mental health’; this will be elaborated and proposed over the next 8 months. Stakeholders present today therefore had the possibility to make their voices heard, underlining the priorities that would need to addressed by a future EU mental health initiative.
Professor Steinebach emphasised the impact of the various societal crises on the mental health of citizens, more specifically the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the war in Ukraine and its consequences for costs of living and poverty as well as the anxieties and worries related to the effects of climate change. Any future EU activity on mental health should take account of these.
But, he said, ‘it should not just be about those vulnerable to or living with mental ill health. It should also be about their relatives, their friends, their neighbors. It is also about the mental health of health professionals. It should be about building strong and resilient communities’.
While psychologists have a crucial role to play in ensuring robust diagnostics and providing effective therapy for those affected by mental ill health, action should also be taken to stimulate prevention, promote resilience, ‘reinforcing a culture of mindfulness and mutual support’.
Over the coming months, EFPA will work with other leading EU mental health stakeholders to advocate for an EU Mental Health Strategy which will reflect the priorities of those active within the area of mental health, to make sure that EU action will have value and a positive impact ‘on the ground’.