Europe as a whole enjoys very high levels of human development, strong health systems, and is mostly free of violent conflict. Health is considered a human right in most countries and is generally publically funded. However, mental health remains an aspect of life that has not yet caught up to physical health in public perception or accessibility. The COVID-19 pandemic has brought mental health much greater awareness in public discourse.
There is a clear need for mental health care in Europe, and accessing treatment is not a given. 4 in every 100 people in the European Union have been diagnosed with depression. In the UK, 19.7% of citizens suffered from anxiety and depression in 2014, the latest year for which statistics were available, which are likely to have increased given the widespread consensus that the mental health conditions in the UK have worsened since the COVID-19 pandemic (1) . While treatment options may be available, they are not always accessed– a 2017 European commission report found that approximately 56% of patients with major depression receive no treatment at all (2). Especially troubling are severe mental health issues for young people – suicide is the leading cause of death for adolescents in low and middle income countries in Europe and the second leading cause of death in high-income countries.(3)