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European Youth Portal

Information and opportunities for young people across Europe.


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Mental health


WHO Europe and Mental Health

Mental ill health accounts for almost 20% of the burden of disease in the WHO European Region and mental health problems affect one in four people at some time in life.

WHO/Europe will pursue four priorities for mental health:

  1. high-quality information, as it is often lacking;
  2. service users’ and carers’ empowerment so that the services can respond to direct needs and experiences;
  3. development of services, particularly community-based practice in middle- and low-income countries, where services have traditionally been provided in large mental institutions; and
  4. improving the state of social care homes in Europe, focusing on the conditions for children with intellectual disabilities, who too often live in unacceptable circumstances, and the development of family support and community services.

Mental ill health accounts for almost 20% of the burden of disease in the WHO European Region and mental health problems affect one in four people at some time in life. Nine of the ten countries with the highest rates of suicide in the world are in the European Region.

Much is now known about what works in mental health promotion, prevention, care and treatment. The challenge is now to implement this knowledge.

Services and practice do not always reflect the knowledge of what works in mental health care and treatment. Many countries have limited community-based mental health services and little specialist help for young or elderly people.

Many people in large mental institutions are subject to neglect and abuse of human rights, reflected in high mortality rates. Stigma and prejudice are widespread and affect every aspect of mental health, including whether people seek and receive help.