The EESC calls for continuous action at all levels.

UM – 08/2023

The European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) adopted its opinion on measures to improve mental health in plenary session on 13 July this year. It has been drafted as an exploratory opinion at the request of the Spanish Council Presidency. Spain has made improving mental health and combating the associated stigma a priority of its Council Presidency. Council conclusions are being sought, which is why the issue was on the agenda of the informal ministerial meeting in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria on 27 and 28 July.

Political priority

The EESC's opinion should be placed in the context of other initiatives on mental health, such as the European Commission's Communication on a comprehensive approach to mental health or the EESC's position on precarious work (see DSV News 07/2023). The parliamentary subcommittee SANT, which deals exclusively with health issues, also wants to set its own political accents with a self-initiated report. For example, rapporteur Sara Cerdas (S&D, PT) proposes, among other things, the promotion of "social prescribing" along the lines of the National Health Service (NHS) in the UK, whereby counsellors ("link workers") work with people to create individual support plans so that they can take better control of their well-being. The draft report has been available since the end of July.

A vicious circle

Mental health is rightly high on the political agenda, states the EESC. It stated that about four per cent of deaths in a year are due to mental health problems and behavioural disorders. The direct and indirect costs also amounted to almost four per cent of the gross domestic product. The influencing factors are known: childhood experiences, poverty, discrimination, education, all forms of dependency, also poor healthcare. Most recently, the coronavirus pandemic has exacerbated the problem. This is particularly evident among young and older people, but also other vulnerable groups. In its conclusions, the EESC stresses the importance of continuously promoting mental health, the prevention of mental illness and the development of resilience. And this in all EU strategies and at all levels.

Civil Society Prize

Also in July, the EESC launched its Civil Society Prize for the 14th time. This also addresses the issue of promoting the mental well-being of Europeans. We are looking for innovative non-profit projects that help people with mental illness and create favourable conditions for their mental well-being.