Select Committee on European Union Minutes of Evidence


Explanatory memorandum on European Community Document

GREEN PAPER: IMPROVING THE MENTAL HEALTH OF THE POPULATION TOWARDS A STRATEGY ON MENTAL HEALTH FOR THE EUROPEAN UNION

SUBMITTED BY THE DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH ON 31 OCTOBER 2005

SUBJECT MATTER

  The stated purpose of the green paper is to launch a debate about "the relevance of mental health for the EU, the need for a strategy at EU level, and its possible priorities." The paper was adopted by the Commission on 14 October.

19 OCTOBER 2006

Key messages

  The green paper's key messages are that:

    —  mental health is important for key EU policy objectives—eg health, quality of life, economic and social welfare;

    —  there are serious challenges—eg mental ill-health leading to suicide or absenteeism, stigma and discrimination; and

    —  there is a need for a stronger evidence base for action.

The need for an EU strategy

  The paper suggests that an EU-wide strategy would add value by:

    —  creating a framework for exchange and co-operation between member states;

    —  increasing the coherence of actions in different policy sectors; and

    —  opening a new platform for involving service users.

Priorities

  The paper identifies three basic priorities, and in each case some options for action based on good practice identified through EU projects:

    —  promoting mental health and addressing mental ill health through preventive action;

    —  promoting the social inclusion of mentally ill or disabled people and protecting their fundamental rights and dignity; and

    —  improving information and knowledge on mental health in the EU.

Consultation

  The consultation will happen in three main ways:

    —  by creating a dialogue on mental health with member states;

    —  by launching an EU platform on mental health (to promote consensus and co-operation across the various sectors and stakeholders involved); and

    —  by developing an interface between mental health policy and research (to overcome gaps in data and ensure better-informed policy making).

  The questions that the consultation will focus on are:

    —  how relevant is mental health for the EU's strategic policy objectives?

    —  would an EU mental health strategy add value, and does the green paper identify the right priorities? and

    —  are the initiatives that the paper proposes appropriate and sufficient?

  The results of the consultation process may be developed into a Council Recommendation on the promotion of mental health and another on the reduction of depression and suicidal behaviour.

MINISTERIAL RESPONSIBILITY

  The Secretary of State for Health has lead responsibility. Ministers of the Scottish Executive and the Welsh Assembly have an interest relating to their responsibilities for health care provision. Whilst the Northern Ireland Assembly and Executive are suspended the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland has these functions.

LEGAL AND PROCEDURAL ISSUES

(i)   Legal basis

  Some of the proposals for action in the green paper fall under Community competence in accordance with the provisions of Article 152 of the EC Treaty. The paper recognises that other proposals will be the exclusive competence of Member States.

(ii)   European Parliament Procedure

  None. This is a consultation document only.

(iii)   Voting Procedure

  None.

(iv)   Impact on United Kingdom law

  None.

(v)   Application to Gibraltar

  None.

POLICY IMPLICATIONS

  This is a consultation document only. However, the paper's main proposals and priorities are in line with current UK policy: for example on combatting the social exclusion and stigma associated with mental health, and reducing suicide rates.

FINANCIAL IMPLICATIONS

  None.

TIMING

  The consultation period was launched formally on 24 October. The consultation period will run until the end of May 2006. Depending on the outcome of the consultation, there may be Council Recommendations and a Commission proposal for an EU mental health strategy by the end of 2006.

Minister for Health Services,

Department of Health



 
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