Children’s mental health must become a priority for all Member States, with interventions starting in their earliest years.
On 7 June, the European Commission published a Communication on a Comprehensive Approach to Mental Health, as part of the Commission’s initiative on establishing a European Health Union ensuring access to mental health care for all — especially those in the most vulnerable situations.
Adverse early childhood experiences, including neglect, trauma, violence, and chronic stress, have a profound impact on children’s lives and their future as adults. We therefore welcome the Communication’s emphasis on childhood as a crucial life stage in determining future mental health, and its focus on early intervention and prevention – including in nurseries, early childhood education and care (ECEC) settings and in schools – and the need for measures that support the safety and wellbeing of children, including in the digital sphere.
It is clear that the multiple crises and risk factors currently experienced by people across Europe, and beyond, are taking a huge toll on people’s mental health, especially among children and young people. With suicide as the second leading cause of death among young people aged 15-19 in Europe, Member States and EU institutions must respond with urgency and commitment to the mental health needs of children, their families, and communities, address the underlying causes and invest in early intervention support.
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