16 February 2023

MHE’s response to the call for evidence on a comprehensive approach to mental health

Following the much-anticipated announcement by President von der Leyen in September, the European Commission is working on the development of a mental health initiative. Mental Health Europe (MHE) has long asked for a dedicated EU action on mental health and applauds the European Commission’s commitment to the topic.


In the past months, MHE met with different Commissioners and cabinets, holding ongoing discussions with relevant services within the European Commission. Based on our 35+ years of expertise, as the largest independent European network in the mental health field, MHE has responded to the public consultation on a comprehensive approach to mental health.


Our contribution focused on six main recommendations covering all those key aspects that should be in the EU approach to mental health for it to be truly comprehensive.

MHE recommended the European Commission to:

  1. Develop a European Mental Health Strategy, with a clear timeline, adequate budget, objectives, as well as indicators to monitor progress. MHE recommends the European Commission to either develop a European Mental Health Strategy as the subject of the forthcoming initiative in 2023 or to publish a communication in 2023 that, among other things, works towards the developments of a European Mental Health Strategy;
  2. Adopt a psychosocial model of understanding mental health to address social determinants, structural barriers and provide tailored support. It is important, when identifying possible solutions and way forward, not to put all the responsibility on individuals (asking them to be more resilient or mentally health literate) but to address the broader, socio-economic and environmental factors;
  3. Promote and protect the rights of people with mental health problems and psychosocial disabilities. In a simplified way, we can say that mental health lies on a continuum from good mental health to psychosocial disability. A comprehensive approach to mental health will therefore also look into the rights of people with mental health problems and psychosocial disabilities and focus on non-discrimination and equality;
  4. Mainstream mental health in all policies at EU level. A mental health mainstreaming could be applied in all EU policies, ensuring that mental health considerations are built into the design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of policy, legislation and spending programmes;
  5. Co-create the initiative with people with lived experience and key stakeholders. Member States should be encouraged to develop any services and policies with meaningful engagement of people with lived experience. Similarly, the EU should lead by example and ensure that the design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of the initiative are characterized by the meaningful engagement of key stakeholders, particularly civil society, representatives of people with lived experience and their supporters;
  6. Break stigma and end discrimination. The EU initiative could support European activities – such as MHE’s European Mental Health Week  – to combat discrimination and normalize the conversation around mental health among the general public and in specific sectors (e.g. professionals from health, education, social fields).

MHE will continue collaborating with EU institutions in the coming months to support the development of this initiative.

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