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Major new Europe-wide report on mental health produced by IMH

A major new report into mental health across Europe has been published by a consortium led by Dr Chiara Samele, an independent researcher working on behalf of the Institute of Mental Health. See below to download the report.

In December 2010, the Executive Agency for Health and Consumers (EAHC) of the European Commission's Directorate General for Health and Consumers commissioned this project to provide an up-to-date profile of mental health systems across European Members States and other countries, with a focus on mental illness prevention and mental health promotion activities. This was to inform the European Union's work within and between Member States and other countries and provide a further platform for future EU work in the field. The report comprises:
  • a review of the relevant European literature;
  • a series of 29 country profiles (EU Member States and Norway), and analyses of these;
  • suggestions for strengthening systems to support prevention and promotion;
  • economic and social benefits of investments in prevention and promotion;
  • existing monitoring indicators to assess the quality of mental healthcare;
  • future plans for prevention and promotion in Member States and other countries;
  • discussion and policy recommendations for Member States and the European Commission.

Prevention of mental illness and promotion of mental health and well-being has recently increased in importance for EU policy makers because it offers an important opportunity to reduce the suffering and onset of mental illness, enhance the well-being of a population and in turn promote social and economic growth. In any year, just over 38% of the European Union's population experience a mental illness (164.8 million people) with anxiety disorders (14%), insomnia (7%) and depression (6.9%) being the most common. Across 30 European countries, the cost of brain disorders is estimated at 798 billion Euros for 2010, with stigma and discrimination presenting significant social costs for people with mental illness.

The 29 country profiles contained in the report - comprising all 28 EU Member States plus Norway - provide a snapshot of each country's current mental health system and an overview of initiatives in mental illness prevention and mental health promotion. The report shows the variety of activity in mental health across Europe over the past decade, especially the shift from long-stay hospital care to community-based mental health services. Over a third of countries still have this form of care and many countries still lack sufficient community-based mental health services.

The report authors make a number of policy recommendations for individual Member States:

  1. Ensure commitment and leadership to population mental health and well-being
  2. Strengthen mental health promotion and prevention of mental illness
  3. Promote mental health and well-being partnership action
  4. Promote the transition towards mental health services that are integrated into the community and ensure a better distribution of and access to services
  5. Promote quality of care, data collection and defining indicators
  6. Empower users, informal carers and civil society

As well as recommendations for the European Commission around:

  1. Continuing a leadership role on mental health and well-being
  2. Promoting exchange and cooperation between Member States
  3. Integrating mental health into the EU's own policies
  4. Working with stakeholders
  5. Improving the availability of data on the mental health status in the population and defining, collecting and disseminating good practices