Report is about|
In January 2005, the World Health Organization (WHO)
convened a conference of health ministers to discuss mental health
problems across Europe. The conference produced a Declaration
recognising that mental health and mental well-being are fundamental
to the quality of life and productivity of individuals, families,
communities and nations. An Action Plan was drawn up to support
this Declaration, and the European Commission was asked for support
to take this forward.
The publication of the Commission's Green Paper,
"Improving the mental health of the population: Towards a
strategy on mental health for the European Union", in October
2005, was the first step in the Commission's response.
This Report brings together evidence relating to
the Green Paper from a wide range of individuals and organisations.
Around one in four adult Europeans experience a mental
health problem in any one year, often as a result of an anxiety
disorder or depression, and sometimes as a result of a more severe
disorder such as schizophrenia. There are also high rates of emotional
and behavioural disorders among children and adolescents, and
of mental health problems among older people. The impact on individuals
and their families is enormous: in the United Kingdom alone, the
cost to the economy is estimated at over £77 billion every
All too often, people suffering from mental health
problems can experience social exclusion, stigma and discrimination.
Many employers have low expectations of what people with mental
health problems can achieve; and there are often barriers against
such people engaging in community life. Basic human rights may
also be denied to people with mental health problems.
The consensus among organisations in the UK, representing
both service providers and service users, is that front-line services
for the treatment of mental health problems should primarily be
based in the community, but that hospitals still need to play
an important role as specialist providers. Compulsory treatment
or detention should only be used as a last resort where other
alternatives have failed.
We urge a wider public recognition of the considerable
body of evidence which indicates the substantial social and economic
impact of mental health problems. Our view is that, for promoting
better mental health and delivering better services, there is
an important role for the EU to facilitate the exchange of information
and best practice, alongside the more specialised roles of the
WHO and of the legislative and policy-making responsibilities
of national governments.