World Health Day 2019: Europe still lacking sufficient coverage of psychological care

Universal coverage of health is the theme of the World Health Day 2019. One might think this would mainly concern third world countries and not Europe. Reality is that not all health sectors are developed at the same level and not all kinds of treatment are available for everyone. “This is especially the case for psychological treatments as Europe is still lacking sufficient coverage of psychological care “ explains Koen Lowet of EFPA’s Standing Committee on Psychology and Health. 


The impact of mental health problems is enormous

The impact of mental health problems is enormous but still widely unknown in the general public. One out of three persons will encounter severe mental health problems in their lifetime, including depression, anxiety or substance misuse. Most of these problems originate in childhood or early adolescence. The economic impact on untreated mental health conditions in our society is enormous. Health economists calculate that the loss for our economy could be as big as 4 % of the GDP in Europe. 

“And thus it is astonishing to see how little governments around Europe invest in good coverage of psychological care “continues Lowet. “The benefits of sufficient coverage of psychological care could be significant at no extra costs.”  Policy makers should consider, for example, the savings a government could make through fewer admissions in psychiatric hospitals, fewer expenses on pharmaceutical treatments or treating physical health problems by investing in prevention efforts, by having more people returning to work or not losing their effectiveness at work, or whose social relationships have been affected due to mental health problems.

But can it actually be done? 

Psychology, compared to medicine, is a fairly young science that has developed rapidly nonetheless during the past decades. “Psychology has produced good evidence–based treatments that have an effectiveness of 70%. Besides psychological treatments are far less intrusive and can be delivered in the daily environment, not to mention at a much lower cost. In some countries, ten days of hospital admission can cost as much as a full year of psychological treatment with weekly sessions!” explains Lowet.

So what are we waiting for? 

The inequity between the coverage provided for traditional medical care as opposed to psychological care is unfit for a modern society in Europe. Psychological care needs to be transformed into a go-to-method of care and made available for all European citizens. 


Contact for this press release:

EFPA Standing Committee Psychology and Health

Koen Lowet (Belgium)