Midlands-North West MEP calls for European year of Mental Health

Galway Bay FM News – Midlands-North-West MEP Maria Walsh has called for a European Year of Mental Health

The co-chair of the European Parliament’s Mental Health Alliance hosted a virtual roundtable discussion to consider the merits of creating an EU Year of Mental Health and to gather ideas and initiatives for what could make the proposed EU Year successful.

The discussion, organised in conjunction with GAMIAN EUROPE, heard that a European Year of Mental Health would be a tangible initiative to raise awareness, provide a platform for sharing good practice and facilitate stakeholder cooperation.

The year would contribute towards improving mental health and well-being across the board, would resonate well with European citizens – and ultimately help to save resources.

The discussion was attended by advocacy groups and organisations in the mental health sector across the EU and included NUI Galway Students Union, Pavee Point, SOSAD, Ohana ZERO Suicide, HelpLink, the Shona Project, TENI, Jigsaw Letterkenny, Mental Health Reform, Transformative Recovery College, St. Patrick’s Mental Health Service and a representative from the EU Pharmaceutical Students, as well as Maria Walsh’s Fine Gael Colleagues, Councillors Tracey Dwyer, Neil Cruise and Tom Fox.

After the virtual discussion, Maria Walsh said:

“Mental health should be a policy priority. However, mental health and related policies have been accorded relatively low priority across the EU. The EU-level itself is no longer taking specific initiatives on mental health. 

Throughout the pandemic, we have seen our citizens’ mental health impacted in a way that previously has not been as visible as it should have been. Now is the time for our countries and the EU as a whole to recognise the importance of promoting and investing in mental health and a European Year, endorsed by the EU institutions. This is the perfect way for us to raise awareness for our citizens and communities mental health.

Rates of anxiety, depression, loneliness and addiction are already increasing as a consequence of the pandemic and will only increase further as a result of the predicted economic and employment uncertainty.

Moreover, the pandemic has revealed systemic problems in the way society treats mental health, as services have not been able to keep up with growing demand.”

Walsh has also called on all mental health groups and organisations to contact her on this issue:

“If you are a part of an organisation or group which works in the mental health space, please do get in touch with me and we can champion an European Year for Mental Health together.”