There was little gender-sensitivity on display at the recent public hearing on the future EU strategy on mental health. The well-attended event at the the European Parliament was organised on 8 June by the EPP-ED party, and was chaired by John Bowis, MEP, the rapporteur on the Parliament’s response to the Commission’s recent Green Paper on mental health. Only Mr Bowis’s report acknowledged ‘that men and women may have different mental health needs’.
The programme included the perspectives of the Robert Madelin, Director General DG Health, Dr Matt Muijen Director Mental Health World at the World Health Organisation, Prof. Marušič, Director of Public Health Slovenia, and Mr Žilvinas Padaiga, Lithuanian Minister of Health.
Many of the presentations focussed on the more common forms of mental ill health: depression and anxiety, and in the reduction of suicide, for they results in significant social and economic costs. Slovenia is the second EU country most affected by suicide after Finland. Prof. Marušič referred to the difficulty in seeing depressed people through to successful care. Out of 100 depressed individuals, as many as 40% would not seek help. Of the remaining 60, many will not be able to be diagnosed properly, and will be inclined to discontinue treatment. As a result, only 2-3 patients may be successfully cared for.
It is recognised that more women than men report being depressed while many more men commit suicide, yet no gender specific approach was presented.
The Parliament will soon vote on its response to the Commission’s view. The Commission aims to produce a synthesis of the outcome of its consultation process, which has involved all EU stakeholders, by the Autumn. The result of this process should form the basis for a White Paper which could be expected as early as the beginning of 2007.
- Click here for the EU Commission's Green paper on mental health
- Click here for John Bowis's report
- Click here for the full programme