This year’s World Health Day is dedicated to universal health coverage, which remains a distant reality for millions of people in Europe and around the world. Universal health coverage is about ensuring all people can get affordable quality health services, where and when they need them.
On World Health Day, Mental Health Europe calls for parity of esteem between physical and mental health. Quality healthcare should provide affordable and accessible community-based mental health services, which are recovery oriented and respectful of people’s rights. Making health and mental health services truly universal requires a shift from designing health systems around diseases and institutions towards health services designed with and for people.
“Because of the stigma associated with mental ill health, a general lack of understanding about mental health and poor financial investment in services, community-based and recovery oriented mental health care remains the exception rather than the rule in many parts of Europe” regrets Nigel Henderson, President of Mental Health Europe.
Achieving universal mental health care is a key public health issue: People experiencing mental ill health face barriers and discrimination within the healthcare system which too often results in poorer physical health. People living with severe mental health problems have a lower life expectancy of 10-25 years mainly because of their physical ill health. “The situation can be addressed through integrated health and care services and community support for people living with mental ill health” adds Henderson.
Realising health for all will be necessary to ensure the European Union (EU) and Member States respect their commitment to implement the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030, including Goal Number 3 which seeks to ensure ‘healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages’. Mental health and wellbeing are an essential part of the SDGs and delivering on these commitments should be a priority for the EU.
Mental Health Europe is concerned that the future of health policy in Europe is threatened. The EU must act on health and mental health through strong political leadership coming from the European Commission. How can the EU deliver on better European integration if it does not take responsibility in tackling cross-border health threats, including the mental health challenges of millions of Europeans?
MHE calls for the EU and its Member States to ensure that the next European budget – the Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) – and the formation of the new European Commission, will reflect the commitments made through the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals agenda. Health access for all will not happen without political will and commitment from European leaders: it’s time to act!