Mental health has been an emerging focus for the European Commission, with recent actions outlined here. Importantly, in 2022 the EU launched its promising new initiative on a comprehensive approach to mental health. This aims to assess actions which can be taken at the EU level to enhance mental wellbeing and consider how mental health should be incorporated into wider policy agendas. A core component of this has been a call for evidence, run between January-February 2023, to enable stakeholder engagement.
On 21st April, the EU hosted their third and final stakeholder webinar. The session was opened by a recorded message from Commissioner Stella Kyriakides who highlighted the need to reduce stigma and promote better intersectoral action to increase access to mental health care for all. Artur Furtado (DG SANTE), then gave an update on the EU’s mental health initiative and highlighted the upcoming publication of the consultation report.
Prior to the meeting, stakeholders had submitted poster summaries of suggested actions to improve mental health across Europe, which can be found here. 22 posters were received, grouped into 6 thematic areas by the Commission. Representatives were then asked to present the main theme from their poster during the webinar.
Importantly, certain presentations made clear reference to the benefit of the physical activity sector and fitness wearables. In the ‘prevention and promotion’ group, World Physiotherapy (European Region) highlighted the strong link between inactivity and mental health, with exercise on prescription as a useful treatment for depressive symptoms. Furthermore, Mila Pihlaja from the Tampere University of Applied Science (Finland) promoted the important contribution of wearable devices for burnout detection. A recent study by the institution highlights how physical activity and heart health interact with burnout, with wearable fitness devices able to be used for burnout detection through measuring cardiac physiology alterations.
During the final thematic group covering cross-cutting approaches, Francesca Centola from Mental Health Europe called for the engagement of stakeholders from fields beyond health in policymaking processes. She promoted the need for a co-creation approach in all policies which impact mental health, with diverse stakeholders included in the design process.
Following this meeting, a flash report was published here. We now look ahead to the publication of the full consultation report and expected adoption of the Commission Communication on 7th June.