A Social Europe is a healthy Europe

Over the past year, civil society organisations have been busy working on proposals to make Social Europe a reality and overcome the burden and repercussions of austerity measures through the European Pillar of Social Rights (Social Pillar).

Last April, the European Commission finally published the long-awaited text of the Social Pillar along with a set of legislative and non-legislative initiatives.

One of Mental Health Europe’s (MHE) core missions is to promote mainstreaming of mental health in all policies. The Social Pillar is promising in this respect, since it covers a number of areas of potential importance for positive mental health.

At Mental Health Europe, our understanding of mental health recognises that mental distress can be experienced by anyone and may be caused by a series of different factors and life events. Social policies can therefore have an impact on people’s mental health and that is why the Social Pillar is an opportunity to improve services across Europe that will contribute to preventing mental ill health, promote the well-being of millions of people in Europe, and protect people living with mental health problems and psychosocial disabilities.

In its preliminary assessment of the Social Pillar, MHE has identified education, training and life-long learning, active support to employment, secure and adaptable employment, work-life balance, healthy, safe and well-adapted work environments and data protection, healthcare, inclusion of people with disabilities, and housing and assistance for the homeless as particularly relevant principles for our cause. It’s absolutely vital that adequate investment is made into services that support people with mental ill health, which is why we support Social Platform’s work to promote investment in services for the well-being of people.

The Work-Life Balance Directive proposal will be among our priorities this year since finding the right balance between work and private life is essential for positive mental health. Moreover, for parents or carers living with mental ill health or psychosocial disabilities, and for parents/carers of children or relatives in such situations, the provisions in relation to leave are essential for being able to work in the open labour market.

Overall, MHE positively welcomes the Social Pillar as it is the first concrete attempt to make Europe more social and more about its rights-holders. Some aspects can still be improved and MHE looks forward to collaborating with Social Platform and its members to reach the objective of a fairer, more inclusive, and healthier Social Europe.

By Maria Nyman, Director of Social Platform member Mental Health Europe