On 20 October 2020, Polish Member of the European Parliament (MEP) Magdalena Adamowicz of the Group of the European People’s Party (Christian Democrats) posed a written parliamentary question to the European Commission:
“The COVID-19 pandemic has had an adverse impact on the lives and health of millions of people, including the mental wellbeing of children and young people. Remote learning, isolation from peers and limited leisure activities have increased stress, fear for the future and depression among young people.
In this context, early detection and treatment of mental health problems in the most vulnerable groups is extremely important. Access to school psychologists in each school should be promoted and effective prevention programmes should be introduced to raise mental health awareness and to develop coping skills in crisis situations. There is also no doubt that support for hospital psychiatric wards for children and young people should be given priority, including during the COVID-19 pandemic, especially in view of the number of suicides and suicide attempts among young people in EU Member States.
Could the Commission therefore say to what extent the mental health of children and young people will be taken into account in the work of the new stakeholder group dealing with mental health issues in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic? To what extent can EU funds be used to support hospital psychiatric wards for children and young people in individual EU countries?”
On 25 January 2021, Health and Food Safety Commissioner Stella Kyriakides responded on behalf of the European Commission stating: “In May 2020, the Commission created a dedicated network space on the mental health impact of COVID-19 on the EU Health Policy Platform to support stakeholders’ efforts to tackle the said impact.
It is not a stakeholder group per se but a virtual space for stakeholders and other interested non-profit organisations to come together to exchange practice and knowledge. Participants number around seventy, including representatives of international organisations such as Unicef and the World Health Organisation.
The group focuses on the needs of a wide range of groups, including children and young people. It holds a library that reflects this. The network is stakeholder-driven: they will lead prioritisation of specific activities or topics.
The organisation and delivery of health services and medical care are the responsibility of Member States. The direction of travel in transforming health systems is to bring services closer to people at all levels of care. To ensure long-term resilience of health systems, specific focus should be placed on primary, community and home care settings.
EU funding programmes, such as the Cohesion Policy funds and the Recovery and Resilience Facility, can support investments in mental health services, which should respond to the identified needs in such settings, in particular if they contribute to the implementation of country-specific recommendations identified in the context of the European Semester and are in line with national or regional health strategies.
The Commission is also addressing mental health as a priority issue through support to the implementation of good practices under the Health Programme. Work is expected to start early 2021.”
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