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European Association for Counselling

Promoting Mental Health

There is continuing evidence supporting the need to tackle the growing problem of mental disorders throughout Europe over the last few decades. They impose a high burden on individuals and the economy as a whole.
There is also evidence that people who suffer from Mental Disorders do not receive evidence based treatments. EU mental health studies show that there are substantial costs associated in workplaces through absenteeism resulting in reduced earnings which impact on the increase in benefit claims from sufferers.
In the EU the direct cost of mental disorders taking all factors into consideration from benefit claims to treatment amount to some 450 billion euros per year.  The cost of primary and specialist mental care throughout the member countries leads to growing costs for the health services in general.
Extending this argument to show that increased promotion for the prevention of mental disorders or even early intervention of them will produce significant savings in the health and other sectors even in the short term.
This is because reduced mental disorders and improved mental health will have an impact on the general medical health including physical health with the resulting savings from these areas.
A resilient Europe needs resilient citizens. Mental Health is a human right and a key resource for ever section of the economy. Investment in the prevention and treatment of mental disorders is the foundation for health, quality of life and resilience of Europeans. This investment will also see a reduction in the need for drugs and tobacco use.
Significant efforts have been made by the member states working with the WHO and the OECD to improve the mental health of Europeans. However, despite this effort, Europe is a long way short of finding a solution as mental health disorders throughout member states is increasing not diminishing.
Some of the things that contribute to this gap are still the stigma surrounding mental health and the reluctance of individuals to seek help. Finally, a significant share of the treatment of mental disorders lies from the lack of training of health professionals from health bodies to the private sector. This must improve if Europe is to stem the tide of mental disorder growth.
(The above statement does not necessarily reflect the views of the EAC but of the author of the statement)

David Dutch – Webmaster

Päivi Sillanaukee

During her long career, Ms Sillanaukee has held various development and management positions within the public administration. The most prominent ones include serving as Deputy Mayor of the City of Tampere and Director-General of the Department for Social and Health Services at the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health, a position which Ms Sillanaukee has now held for over four years.
Why is promoting mental health and well-being important for European societies? 

It could be that mental health is more crucial today than it has ever been. Increasingly, as we progress more firmly into the information society era, productivity is dependent on our minds, as manual work is being replaced by mental work. Here the population’s mental capital, by which we mean cognitive, emotional, and social skills, are essential resources required for the prosperity of individuals, companies, and societies in this new era. Thus mental health becomes more valuable and more vulnerable, due to the many sources of stress in information-driven economies. It is also worth to mention that mental health impacts many policy areas. Mental disorders constitute a significant proportion of the disease burden in Europe, a figure which is on the increase. On the broader scale mental disorders cause a significant loss of work days and decrease in European productivity, but they also cause significant individual and family suffering, which impacts negatively also on people’s academic achievements. A shift in this trend requires coordinated implementation of a range of effective public mental health interventions to promote mental wellbeing and prevent mental disorders.

What is the role of the health sector in mental health promotion?

Usually, the health sector needs to take the key role in initiating and coordinating activity, as well as providing expertise. However, a large number of individual, familial and societal determinants of mental health lies in non-health policy areas such as social policy, taxation, education, employment and community design. Indeed it is increasingly recognised that the very foundations of mental health are laid down early in life and are later supported by positive nurturing, high social capital, a good work life and a sense of meaning. Therefore sectors outside the health sector play a major role in influencing mental health outcomes − for example, the social sector in ensuring affordable and high-quality day-care centres for children, the educational sector in promoting socio-emotional learning and well-being and in preventing mental stress, bullying, depression, and suicide; the employment sector in developing good management and efficient return-to-work practices; the housing and urban planning sector in providing good quality and reasonably priced housing and access to public parks and play areas, and many sectors in offering people in later life opportunities for continuing and discovering meaningful life styles, including participation in their communities. It is of great importance that we see mental health promotion as an intersectoral goal, rather than relying solely on mental health services that often come in when problems have already developed quite far. This will also reduce undue human suffering as well as result in economic benefit