Mental Health in Europe

The issue of mental health is very important in Europe, and a recent Green Paper produced by the European Commission titled "Improving the Mental Health of the Population in the European Union" showcased the vital issues that need to be tackled. The European Parliament responded to this paper by drawing up a resolution to ensure people with mental health illnesses have access to adequate care, education and housing.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), mental health illnesses account for nearly 20% of disease in Europe, affecting one in four people. 27% of the adult population in Norway, Switzerland and Finland have experienced a mental health illness in the last year, including anxiety, depression and eating disorders. Women are at higher risk of mental health related illnesses except for psychotic disorders and substance abuse disorders.

The World Health Organization aims to promote mental health and well being for all within Europe. In particular the WHO is committed to:

  • Tackling discrimination and stigma
  • Developing community based services for low and middle income European countries
  • Providing access to primary care for mental health illnesses
  • Improving social care homes in Europe
  • Providing high quality information on mental health issues
  • Providing adequate funding
  • Preventing suicides - 9 out of the 10 countries with the highest suicide rates are situated within the European Union
  • Offering effective care for patients with severe mental health issues

Mental Health Professionals in Europe

The number of psychiatrists in Europe per 100 000 population ranges widely, from one in Turkey, to three in Albania, to twenty six in Finland to thirty in Switzerland. The number of mental health nurses per 100 000 varies from three in Greece to four in Bosnia and Herzegovina to one hundred and sixty three in Finland. There are twice as many mental health nurses than psychiatrist in Europe.

GP's (General Practioners) in 95% of European countries refer people with mental health problems, 86% diagnose mental health problems and an equal amount regularly treat people with common mental health disorders. A further 74% of European countries report that General Practitioners identify and refer patients with severe and ongoing mental health issues.