Inclusive and Intersectional Approach: Shaping the Future of Mental Health in the EU

A strategy for mental health based around awareness, accessibility and personalisation is central to a wellbeing focused Europe in 2029

By Radka Maxová

Radka Maxová MEP (S&D, CZ).

05 Apr 2024

By 2029, I envision a European Union where mental health care is inclusive, sensitive to intersectionality, and accessible to everyone. This future will consider the diverse and particular needs of all citizens, taking into account the intersections of, among others, gender, age, and disability.

Mental health challenges do not exist in a vacuum; they are profoundly influenced by societal factors such as gender norms, age-related biases, and disability stigmas. For example, men often face cultural barriers to seeking mental health support, while women are disproportionately affected by certain mental health conditions like depression and anxiety. The elderly, often overlooked, face unique mental health challenges, such as isolation and dementia-related issues. Similarly, individuals with disabilities encounter a double burden: managing their disability and the mental health struggles that may accompany it.

Our strategy for 2029 should therefore be based around awareness, accessibility, and personalisation.

Firstly, we need to educate people to break down stigmas and misconceptions about mental health. We must implement EU-wide educational programs and awareness campaigns that address the intersectional nature of mental health. A European Year for Mental Health would be a step in the right direction for this. These programmes and campaigns should be designed to reach various groups, including schools, workplaces, and communities, ensuring that everyone, from young students to the elderly, receives the knowledge and support they need.

Secondly, we must work towards a European Union where everyone, regardless of their gender, age, or disability, has equal access to high-quality mental health care. This means investing in healthcare infrastructure, including digital health solutions, to reach remote or underserved areas, as well as persons with disabilities and people of all ages. Additionally, we should advocate for policies that support mental health services in various settings, such as schools, workplaces, and care homes.

Finally, a one-size-fits-all approach is clearly ineffective in addressing the complex nature of mental health. By 2029, we should aim for personalised mental health care plans that take into account the individual's gender, age, and any disabilities. This personalised care should extend to preventative measures, treatment, and long-term support.

In conclusion, our vision for 2029 is not just about creating a robust mental health system; it's about creating a system that is equitable, empathetic, and acknowledges the diverse needs of all individuals. By focusing on intersectionality, we can ensure that no one is left behind in our quest for better mental health across the European Union. Let's work together to make this vision a reality, for a healthier, more inclusive Europe.