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Combating stress and depression-related problems

Stress and depression-related problems have become issues of great concern for all age groups. The challenge is all the greater in that the phenomenon has major social and economic repercussions. The Council conclusions presented below therefore call for the implementation of actions to prevent stress and depression-related problems and to promote mental health.

ACT

Council conclusions of 15 November 2001 on combating stress and depression-related problems [Official Journal C 6 of 09.01.2002].

SUMMARY

These conclusions tie in with the Council resolution of 18 November 1999 on the promotion of mental health, which invited the Commission to consider incorporating activities on the theme of mental health into a future public health action programme. Thus, the decision of 23 September 2002 adopting the public health action programme 2003-2008 emphasises that the overall aim of the programme is to contribute towards the attainment of a high level of physical and mental health and well-being. The programme also provides for the preparation and implementation of mental health strategies and measures through action on health determinants.

A widespread phenomenon

Stress and depression-related problems are of major importance to all age groups and are significant contributors to the burden of disease and loss of quality of life within the European Union.

Effects of stress and depression

The challenge is all the greater in that stress and depression-related problems are common and have an impact in numerous areas. Among other things, they cause human suffering, increase the risk of social exclusion and increase mortality. Also, their economic impact on society must not be overlooked.

Promotion and prevention

While there are effective methods to prevent stress and depression-related problems, there is a need to further develop research and methods for intervention, in order to promote mental health and to prevent stress and depression.

Mental health must be promoted through actions across all relevant policies and activities, particularly as regards stress and depression determinants. Likewise, strategies must be developed for tackling stress and depression-related problems.

Actions at Member State level

The Council invites the Member States to:

  • give due attention to the impact of stress and depression-related problems in all age groups and ensure that these problems are recognised; in this context, give special attention to the increasing problem of work-related stress and depression;
  • take actions to improve knowledge on the promotion of mental health and the prevention of stress and depression-related problems in primary care and other health services as well as in social services;
  • collect good quality data on stress and depression-related problems and share them with other Member States and the Commission;
  • develop, implement and evaluate actions to prevent stress and depression-related problems, and promote exchanges of good practice and joint projects within the Member States.

Actions at Commission level

The Council invites the Commission, in the context of the programmes of action in the field of public health, to:

  • facilitate the collection of comparable data on the characteristics, determinants and causes of stress and depression;
  • consider undertaking activities on the theme of stress and depression-related problems, such as facilitating exchange of information, experience, and good practices concerning recognition, prevention and monitoring of stress and depression-related problems;
  • consider opportunities to prevent stress and depression in the definition and implementation of relevant Community policies and activities intended to complement national policies;
  • consider developing strategies for the prevention of stress and depression-related problems.

RELATED ACTS

STIGMA AND DISCRIMINATION IN RELATION TO MENTAL HEALTH

Conclusions of the "Employment, social policy, health and consumer affairs" Council of 2 and 3 June 2003 on combating stigma and discrimination in relation to mental health.
With these conclusions, the Council emphasises the impact of stigma and discrimination in relation to mental health. The Council therefore calls for concrete actions to be taken in order to improve social inclusion and to combat the phenomena of stigma and discrimination.

PROMOTION OF MENTAL HEALTH

Council Resolution of 18 November 1999 on the promotion of mental health [Official Journal C 86 of 24.03.2000].

With this resolution the Council invited the Commission to:

  • consider incorporating activities on the theme of mental health into the future action programme for public health;
  • develop and implement, as a part of the Community health monitoring system, a component for mental health, and produce a report on mental health;
  • analyse the impact of Community activities on mental health, for example in the fields of education, youth policy, social affairs and employment;
  • consider, after consultation of the Member States, the need to draw up a proposal for a Council recommendation on the promotion of mental health.

The Member States were also invited to act in this field by promoting mental health and preventing mental illness, by promoting exchanges of good practice and joint projects with other Member States, and by stimulating and supporting research on mental health and its promotion.

Last updated: 29.05.2005
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