Address by Her Majesty the Queen on the occasion of the launch of The Pan-European Mental Health Coalition
Ladies and Gentlemen,
As an Advocate for the Sustainable Development Goals, I have made it a point to listen to the voices of people with mental health issues, from a number of countries, in both the developed and developing world. They want neglect and stigmatization to end, they want access to counseling and treatment, they long to be recognized as active members of their community, and they want dignity.
The COVID pandemic has reminded us that mental health not only relates to mental illness. It is also inextricably linked to mental well-being, a fundamental requirement for individual development and for the prosperity of any society.
In the effort to leave no one behind, we must increase our efforts to safeguard vulnerable groups: individuals living with mental illness, healthcare professionals, young people, victims of domestic and other forms of violence, refugees and migrants.
For children and young people in particular, this period has been extremely challenging. The pandemic has profoundly disrupted their academic lives, their social and personal development and their early professional endeavors. We must therefore pay particular attention to the mental well-being of young people, and invest in it. Tailored interventions can facilitate access for all and respond better to their unique needs and struggles. In order to understand their challenges, we need to listen to their voices. We need to work together with them to devise appropriate responses and to build up their resilience. Our youth are our future and our hope. We have an obligation to protect and to support them now.
We must emphasize prevention, too, community-based services and important tools such as peer support. Mainstreaming mental well-being components into other policies, such as general health, education, or poverty reduction, might open new avenues as well.
Mental health is a universal concern. Anyone can be affected by challenges related to mental health. For some, it may come in the form of chronic illness, for others it may present short-term challenges that necessitate some degree of support, and for some it may even take the form of disability. We should all care about the status of mental health services, because every one of us may potentially require those services, at a certain point in our lifetime.
Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
The need for cooperation and for sharing our experience in the field of mental health on an international level is pressing. Transversal approaches, reflection, and discussion will be key, between the WHO/Europe, policymakers, mental health professionals, educators, persons with lived experience, NGOs and other potential actors. Elevating the status of mental health and well-being on the agenda is urgent. I am happy to see that this cooperative spirit and this urgency are at the heart of the Pan-European Mental Health Coalition, which is being launched today.