European Parliament agrees new report on Mental Health

On Tuesday 12 December, members of the European Parliament adopted by large majority the recommendations of a new Report on Mental Health. Initially drafted by the SANT Sub-Committee on Public Health, during the final plenary session of the year in Strasbourg, it received 482 votes in favour, 94 against and 32 abstentions.

The European Cancer Organisation (ECO) applauds the adoption of the report, which urges to integrate mental health in all national and European policies, with a focus on tackling discrimination and improving accessibility of mental health services. Political action is urgently required to address the escalating mental health crisis in the European Union, as the current situation poses a significant threat to the well-being of its citizens. Mental ill-health indeed represents a silent pandemic, affecting 84 million Europeans, particularly the ones belonging to the most vulnerable groups. This notably includes cancer patients and survivors, impacted beyond their diagnosis and treatment, indeed experiencing forms of stigmatisation, but also fear of cancer recurrence and trauma. 

In this sense, the European Cancer Organisation closely followed the legislative file and advised MEPs on the following key recommendations to be included in the final report: 

  • Including cancer survivors in the category of vulnerable citizens, to shed light on the specific needs induced by their disease;
  • Tackling the mental health disease exposure of both the health workforce and of caregivers, who play a vital role in providing care to those who need assistance;
  • Improving work access for people with mental health conditions, to better (re)integrate them into society;
  • Enhancing mental health services across the EU, to deliver fit-for purpose and tailored care;
  • Recognising the burden of a dual disorder which represents a double exposure to vulnerability for patients, consequently facing a lack of adequate care.

Commenting on the freshly adopted report, Marion L’hote, ECO Policy Officer, said:

‘This report reflects a welcome growing political recognition of both the importance of mental health, as well as the breadth of needs to take into account. This include considering more those who experience the double exposure of a disease such as cancer, with simultaneous mental health difficulties. These are often highly inter-linked, as the trauma and distress caused by cancer attests to.

ECO was also pleased to see that the European Parliament recognised the acute need to better safeguard the mental and psychological welfare of those delivering health and cancer care to patients in often highly testing and stress-inducing circumstances. We cannot solve Europe’s health and oncology workforce crisis without better attention to this. As our ongoing campaign on the workforce crisis makes clear, far too many health professionals are experiencing acute chronic stress and burnout in their workplaces. It must not be accepted.

We are hopeful that multi-stakeholder working, across borders, through projects under the European Commission’s mental health workstream, will give more opportunities for effective action on all the issues raised in the Parliament’s new report.”

You can read further information about ECO’s policy positioning on cancer survivorship and quality of life in the relevant chapter of the Time To Accelerate: Together Against Cancer Manifesto here. We invite your endorsement!

Find out more on the ECO ‘A Cancer Workforce In Crisis’ campaign here.

For further information about this topic, and to connect to ECO's work on Survivorship and Quality of Life, please contact Marion L’hote at marion.lhote@europeancancer.org