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Mental health should be considered an integral part of all spheres of social life

Today in Brussels, Minister of Health Zofija Mazej Kukovič attended the European conference on mental health, which was organised by the European Commission in cooperation with the Slovenian Presidency under the slogan “Together for Mental Health and Well-Being”. Experts predict that by 2020 depression will become the most frequent cause of illness in the developed world, and that the prevalence of mental disorders among all illnesses is growing most rapidly. “The number of people with mental disorders is also increasing due to demographic trends and the growing number of elderly population in the European Union,” noted the Minister in her opening address; she added, “Our goal is to develop measures to promote mental health and raise public awareness, assume and maintain healthy living habits, and create an environment that provides for personal growth.”

Mental health is the fundamental good for the quality life of an individual and society, and for its economic and cultural progress. It is the economic capital of nations, and consequently it must be treated as an integral part of all areas of social protection, education and employment.

The Minister pointed out that EU Member States have succeeded in developing models which can serve as examples of good practice. We cannot and do not want to develop a uniform mental health protection model at the European Union level that would be suitable for all; however, we can point out common needs and values and define common objectives.

The attention and activities that the European Commission devotes to mental health, including the present conference, will be of great help in the search for the fastest way to improve the mental health and well-being of EU citizens.

By the end of the conference, the participants will adopt a European agreement on mental health and well-being, as an additional incentive at the debate on the Green Paper for improving the mental health of the population, which was published in 2005 by the European Commission. The agreement sets out five priority themes: preventing suicide and depression, mental health in youth and education, mental health in workplace settings, mental health in the elderly, and combating stigma and social exclusion. It emphasises the importance of mental health for public healthcare, education, productivity and social cohesion in the European Union. The agreement reflects the preparedness of high-level governmental and non-governmental EU subjects to join forces in addressing the problems of mental health.


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Date: 16.06.2008