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Representation in Ireland
News article7 June 2023Representation in Ireland

European Health Union: a new comprehensive approach to mental health

The European Commission proposed today a package of initiatives to put mental health on a par with physical health and to ensure a new, cross sectoral approach to mental health issues across the EU.

EU Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakides addressing the press conference on a global approach in terms of mental health.

With 20 flagship initiatives and €1.23 billion in EU funding from different financial instruments, the Commission will support Member States putting people and their mental health first.

Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, mental health problems affected around 84 million people in the EU, and these figures have only worsened since then. The pandemic has placed additional pressures on mental health, especially among young people and those with pre-existing mental health conditions. In her State of the Union address in September 2022, President Ursula von der Leyen called for a new initiative on mental health.

The initiative also addresses calls from the European Parliament, and a proposal put forward by citizens in the context of the Conference on the Future of Europe. 

The cost of non-action on mental health is significant and projected to rise, following global challenges linked to social, political and environmental changes, increased digitalisation, economic pressures and radical shifts in the labour market. The total costs of mental health issues – which include the costs to health systems and social security programmes, but also lower employment and worker productivity – are estimated to amount to more than 4% of GDP across EU countries, equivalent to over €600 billion per year.

There is no health without mental health and there can be no European Health Union without equal and timely access to prevention, treatment and care for our mental health. Today marks a new beginning for a comprehensive, prevention-oriented and multi-stakeholder approach to mental health at EU level. We need to break down stigma and discrimination so that those in need can reach out and receive the support they need. It is ok not to be ok, and it is our duty to ensure that everyone asking for help has access to it.

Stella Kyriakides, Commissioner for Health and Food Safety

For More Information

Commission press release


Mental health (

Video on Mental Health


Publication date
7 June 2023
Representation in Ireland