Awareness of mental health is increasing around the world, and especially in Europe. Anyone can suffer from mental health problems, and it can have wide-ranging effects on an individual’s life, in the same way physical health issues would do. The most commonly diagnosed mental health diseases include depression, generalized anxiety, and eating disorders. The symptoms of psychiatric problems, although different for everyone, include feeling sad and/or down, withdrawal from social life, anger, substance abuse, and suicidal thoughts. In many European countries, around a quarter of the population reported suffering from at least one mental health condition. The prevalence of anxiety disorders across Europe was slightly higher than depression in most European countries. The COVID-19 pandemic which spread around the world in early 2020 has caused and exacerbated mental health problems as almost every part of everyday life was affected.
Mental healthcare in Europe
The cost of accessing mental health in Europe differs greatly. For example, in Romania or Slovakia, a worker on the minimum wage would have to work more than two full days to afford just a one-hour session with a private psychologist compared to under six hours of work in France and Belgium. Furthermore, over a quarter of respondents to a survey across Europe reported they did not access mental health services in 2020 because of financial issues. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, how people received healthcare changed, and this was reflected in the way patients interacted with mental healthcare. Even after the pandemic struck, over 40 percent of Europeans surveyed had not been aware they could access professional mental health services online. Although the negative aspects cannot be overlooked as due to the changes brought about by the pandemic, around a third of patients described their mental healthcare as inadequate.
Mental health among young people
Across the EU, the suicide rate among teenagers was four per 100,000 population, showing that steps also need to be made in supporting mental health for young people. Throughout Europe, a significant share of teenagers reported feeling low at least once a week even before the pandemic impacted the world. For example, in Italy, 53 percent of girls and 28 percent of boys experienced feeling down more than once a week. Furthermore, in the United Kingdom, the share of young people reporting experiences of depression had more than doubled in the period between 2011 and 2021. The full effects of the mental health impact of the pandemic may not be fully assessed in the years to come, especially among children and teenagers.
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Research expert covering health & pharmaceuticals in the UK & Europe