Mental Health Europe (MHE) is proud to host the 4th edition of the European Mental Health Week, with a strong focus on promoting mentally healthy communities to support well-being at every stage of life. MHE believes that by empowering communities with knowledge and understanding about mental health in our schools, workplaces, homes, and any other community meaningful to us, we can ensure that everyone has the resources and support they need to thrive and flourish.
MHE Director Claudia Marinetti: “Shifting the focus from individuals to communities, this year’s European Mental Health Week highlights the inseparable link between mental health, its social determinants and our environments. By recognising this connection, we can take targeted action where it matters most, bringing about structural changes for better well-being throughout our communities.”
MHE is calling for the reshaping of environments that influence mental health at a European Parliament event on 24 May co-hosted by MEP István Ujhelyi, (S&D), MEP Soraya Rodriguez (Renew Europe) and MEP Stelios Kympouropoulos (EPP).
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. It is also 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.
Home is a crucial setting for mental health, where most people are exposed to either protective or risk factors, which can significantly impact their mental health. While individuals spend a substantial amount of time in schools, universities and learning environments, access to mental health support or even to mental health promotion and prevention programmes is not always available. Work is central to many people’s lives and identities, as it provides income, can give a sense of meaning and inclusion, and is an important part of the recovery process for people experiencing mental health problems. Beyond home, education and employment, research indicates that community involvement, associative participation, and the possibility to engage in community decisions is conducive to positive mental health at all ages. Moreover, community actors play an important role in addressing the mental health needs of the population, by providing timely, culturally appropriate first-line support and by advocating for the right changes.
MHE is releasing Policy Recommendations during the event at the European Parliament to emphasize the widespread awareness and increased value that should be given to mental health and its determinants, and the need to match this with commitment, engagement and investment by all stakeholders, across all sectors. This detailed policy document provides recommendations on the structural changes that are required, and the skills needed to do so concerning mental health in the home, work, in education as well as the broader communities.
MHE Board President Catherine Brogan: “A widespread understanding of mental health and the factors that shape it can serve as a basis to demand policies and actions that can bring about the right changes. This approach is necessary to ensure that everybody lives in a context that supports their mental health and enables them to flourish at every stage of life.”
Mental health has become a topic of increasing interest in policymaking and 2023 is the European Year of Skills. As such, the Policy Event on 24 May ‘How Mentally Healthy Communities Can Make Us Thrive’ focuses on how communities can provide understanding, knowledge, skills and support for people to take care together of their mental health, cope with ups and downs over their lifetime, and recognise what societal changes are needed to achieve mentally healthy communities.
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. These persisting challenges must be addressed to ensure everybody lives in a context that supports their mental health and enables them to flourish at every stage of life. Mental health concerns us all, therefore we must commit to better understanding, knowledge, skills, and support to take care of our mental health.
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European Mental Health Week: www.mhe-sme.org/emhw