In celebration of the 4th edition of the European Mental Health Week, MHE publishes its policy recommendations to pave the way towards mentally healthy communities
Mental health is a state of mental well-being that enables people to realise their own potential, live in line with their values, and meaningfully contribute to their communities. Mental health is an integral part of health and a basic human right. Good mental health is also crucial to personal, community and socio-economic development.
Communities have a substantial role in people’s mental health. They can provide people with a sense of belonging, act as a powerful source of support, offer a feeling of purpose, and enable societal changes that are needed to achieve good mental well-being.
The COVID-19 pandemic has shed light on mental health, with the result of widespread awareness and an increased value given to mental health by individuals, communities and governments. It is now time to match this value with commitment, engagement and investment by all stakeholders, across all sectors. Key priorities of action for European countries consist in reshaping the environments that influence mental health (such as home, education, workplaces and broader communities) and in enabling a community-based network of formal and informal support.
It is crucial to provide everyone in society with a comprehensive understanding of the social, cultural and relational factors that impact mental health. While it might be easier to act on individual skills, this is not enough to achieve good mental health for all. Structural changes must be put in place to enhance protective factors and mitigate risk factors related to the broader socio-economic and environmental determinants of mental health.
A widespread understanding of mental health and the factors that shape it can serve as basis to demand policies and actions that can bring about the right changes. This approach is key to ensure that everybody lives in a context that supports their mental health and enables them to flourish at every stage of life.