Mental Health in the EU: trajectory and next steps

In 2018, the report Health at a Glance: Europe pointed out that 84 million people throughout the European Union suffered from some type of Mental Health problem. The arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic increased the appearance of this type of problems related to emotional well-being, especially in the younger population. Failure to correctly address this situation has a cost of 600 billion euros per year in the European Union.

The trajectory of the European Commission in Mental Health

The European Commission has been working and promoting different actions and projects to improve mental health for more than twenty-five years. Among them is the best practices portal to facilitate the collection and exchange of best practices and their application in the EU. Thanks to this initiative, projects such as the Best from the European Alliance against Depressionin which 10 Member States participate and has financial support from the Commission.

In 2013, the Joint Action on Mental Health and Wellbeing which subsequently gave rise to European Framework for Action on Mental Health and Wellbeingpublished in 2016. The objective was to help Member States review their policies in this area and create an instrument for the development of a strategy to address mental health problems by the European Union and the Member States.

New approach to mental health

In the 2022 State of the Union address, Commission President Ursula von der Leyen announced the intention to present a new mental health initiative by 2023. In June of this year, the Commission adopted the Communication on a global approach to mental health. It has 20 flagship initiatives to help, directly and indirectly, Member States.

This new approach is based on three principles:

  • the prevention appropriate and effective,
  • he access to high-quality and affordable healthcare and treatment,
  • the reintegration in society after recovery.

The objective of the European Commission is to address all the factors that may affect people’s mental health, being aware that these are very varied. For this, among the measures put in place they find each other:

  • the integration of mental health into all policies,
  • boost mental health children and young people,
  • address psychosocial risks in the job.


In 2022 the program EU4Health in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, which represents unprecedented financial support from the EU in the field of health. A portion of its budget will be allocated to promote mental health.

This money will be used, among other actions, for Member States to collaborate in a joint action that addresses the challenges of mental health, the development of projects to help cancer patients and survivors and their caregivers cope with the psychological consequences of the disease, and the creation of a European Mental Health Code.

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