Mental Health in Europe: Promoting Equal Opportunities and Social Participation

12. April 2017

According to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), 5% of working age people suffer from severe psychological problems, whereas 15% show moderate forms of mental disorder. The World Health Organisation (WHO) states that more than 25% of individuals develop one or more mental disorders during their life. Not only do mental health difficulties impede upon an individual's ability to achieve a fulfilled social and professional life, but they moreover place an enormous collective burden on the economy. Indeed, according to the WHO, mental disorders are the most common cause of early retirement and disability in many European countries.

In order to tackle these challenges, significant efforts have been made by the European Union in partnership and co-operation with international organisations. The WHO introduced the European Mental Health Action Plan 2013 – 2020, containing four core objectives to promote mental health worldwide, including the provision of accessible and affordable mental health services, available in the community according to need. Ministers from the EU subsequently agreed on a Joint Action Plan on Mental Health, whilst the European Commission (EC) established the EU Compass for Action on Mental Health and Wellbeing as a platform to collect, analyse, and exchange information across Europe. This was moreover reinforced by a pan-EU legal analysis, with the EC publishing a report on the Employment Equality Directive and support for those with psychosocial disabilities in the workplace, in 2016.

However, significant progress is still required in developing adequate provision and support for those with mental health difficulties in Europe. Only about half of the people who suffer from serious mental disorders in the EU receive adequate treatment, whilst interventions to promote positive mental health and well-being are inconsistent. The accessibility of mental health services can be further undermined by persistent stigma and a lack of societal awareness about mental health, with people experiencing difficulties reluctant to admit or acknowledge their condition, fearing social exclusion or discrimination. Deeper co-operation between mental health services and other societal actors is essential to address this.

This symposium will provide a timely and invaluable opportunity to engage with the EU Joint Action Plan on Mental Health, develop priorities for improving the provision of services and evaluate how all stakeholders can challenge persistent stigma surrounding mental health disorders to improve public awareness. The symposium will moreover offer delegates a vital platform to share ideas and best practice from across Europe.


Public Policy Exchange


Conference Team
Public Policy Exchange
Tel: +44 (0) 20 3137 8630
Fax: +44 (0) 20 3137 1459


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