The Economy of Well-being Should Have a Human Face
On 25 July 2019, members of the Social Questions Working Party will meet in Brussels. An important item on their agenda will be the discussion of the Draft Council Conclusions on the Economy of Well-being prepared by the Finnish Presidency to the Council of the European Union (EU).
The Finnish Presidency has notably made a commitment to promote the well-being in all policies. These Council Conclusions are a first, concrete outcome stemming from this undertaking.
Mental Health Europe (MHE) welcomes the acknowledgement that greater efforts are needed to promote well-being and mental health in order to “improve the lives of millions of Europeans and contribute to a stronger economy and better working conditions”. We support all recommendations in the draft and we are particularly pleased to see clearly stated action for the European Commission to issue “a Communication regarding the cross-sectoral impacts on mental health of different policy sectors, including a Mental Health Strategy for the EU” and “a Communication on the Economy of Wellbeing, putting the emphasis on balanced cross-sectoral collaboration among different policy fields through a knowledge-based approach, early interventions and implementation of the Pillar.” MHE would therefore strongly encourage the adoption of these sections without any change or reservation.
At the same time, MHE would like to invite the Finnish Presidency and the members of the Social Questions Working Party to consider the following aspects during their discussion:
- While the draft acknowledges the role of economy, productivity and growth in promoting the well-being, the human dimension and the EU commitments to human rights should not be overshadowed by economic aspects. The Council Conclusions’ recommendation to “develop new initiatives to address disability policies beyond the current European Disability Strategy 2010–2020” should therefore explicitly call for the European Commission to adopt a comprehensive post-2020 disability strategic framework that covers all the provisions of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UN CRPD) and addresses the 2015 Concluding Observations of the UN CRPD Committee.
- There is a crucial need for a review of the EU Strategic Framework on Health and Safety at Work that takes into account working conditions in the changing world of work. We commend the inclusion of this recommendation towards the European Commission. The review – and the Council Conclusions – should also include the need for the Strategy to more adequately cover and address psychosocial risks factors in the workplace.
- The language used to talk about mental health and people experiencing mental distress is crucial as it might reinforce negative stereotypes and be stigmatising. For this reason, in paragraph 15 of the draft, we would like to suggest changing the phrasing ‘to improve early diagnosis and treatment of mental disorder’ with ‘to improve early intervention and support to mental health problems’.
MHE welcomes the Finnish Presidency’s commitment to promoting well-being in all policies. We remain available to further our collaboration with the Presidency and the Social Questions Working Party to work towards a swift adoption of the ambitious and comprehensive Council Conclusions on the Economy of Well-being.