Peers reject EU role in mental health service standards

There is a key role for the European Union in promoting mental health but this should not extend to setting minimum pan-EU standards for services, a committee of peers said today.

In a report examining the European Commission’s 2005 green paper on mental health, the Lords EU committee said there was a role for the union in promoting best practice across member states, and ensuring policies go beyond healthcare to look at the social and economic implications of mental health.

Baroness Thomas of Walliswood, chair of the Lords EU sub-committee on social policy and consumer affairs, said: “We are pleased that the EU has decided to look in details at what is an important issue for citizens across Europe. The commission estimates that every year a quarter of Europeans suffer from mental health problems, so this is far from a marginal issue.”

However, the committee said member states were too diverse for EU-wide minimum standards, while it also criticised the commission for grouping learning disability with mental health under the green paper, saying the two conditions were clearly separate.

It said the commission should give serious consideration to a separate strategy on learning disability.

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