Ahead of the World Mental Health Day on 10 October 2021, Stella Kyriakides, Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, made the following statement:
Citizens across the EU and the world have showed impressive resilience and strength in the face of an unprecedented public health crisis. But at the same time, after 18 months of living with COVID-19, a silent pandemic of mental health challenges is sweeping across the European Union and beyond, disproportionately affecting the most vulnerable. Already existing inequalities have become even more apparent.
That is why this year's theme, 'Mental Health in an Unequal World', is very apt. It is the opportunity to shine a light on the need to do everything in our power to ensure equal access to responsive mental health services, to support those who care for members of their families or friends with mental health issues, and to tackle any stigma and discrimination experienced by those affected by mental health difficulties.
Over the past 18 months, our front line workers have been facing endless, exhausting shifts. We saw carers and elderly citizens spending months living in isolation. Many have lost family members, other loved ones, homes or jobs. Children miss out on socialization and education, parents struggling, domestic violence reports increasing. Each wave of the virus undeniably poses new challenges to every individual's mental health. Furthermore, patients diagnosed with COVID-19 may risk psychiatric or even neurological issues. The mental impact of COVID-19 is cutting across our societies.
We must work to build more resilient health systems, support those in need, and address the stigma surrounding mental health. The Recovery and Resilience Facility, at the heart of NextGenerationEU, will help the EU emerge stronger and more resilient from the pandemic.
I welcome the fact that several Member States will channel investment into mental health support and the modernisation of services as well as dedicated facilities as part of their recovery and resilience plans.