How much do you know about mental health? | European Youth Portal (2024)

Last updated on Wednesday, 02/03/2022

The number of young people with mental disorders has grown significantly in recent years and the COVID-19 pandemic has only worsened the situation (OECD, 2021). It has also brought to the fore the debate about mental health. How much do you think you know about mental health? What do you do to take care of it?

Have you already felt like you do not think, react, feel in the way you want? If you have difficulties coping with experiences in your life, if you feel something is not right or if you feel lost and anxious, maybe it’s time to take care of your mental health.

Mental illnesses are disorders that affect mood, thinking, feelings and behaviours and your ability to relate to others. They can have consequences that extend into adulthood, affecting both physical and mental health and limiting opportunities for a fulfilling life.

One in seven young people aged 10-19 years suffers from a mental disorder, representing 13% of the global burden of disease in this age group (source: WHO). That is why it is so important to be well informed about this issue. Mental disorders are treatable and can be overcome, and it is extremely important that you seek help. You are not alone.

What is mental health?

The World Health Organisation defines mental health as a "state of well-being in which the individual realises his or her own capabilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and can make a contribution to his or her community". Being mentally healthy means being able to fulfill oneself, to adapt to circ*mstances, to be productive at work, to contribute to life in the community, as well as to relate to others.

Mental health problems are no different from any other type of health problems. And as such there are always treatments to tackle them. It should also be noted that mental problems can occur to anyone at any stage of their life but those affecting children and young people require urgent assistance to avoid long-lasting consequences into adulthood.

We have interviewed Alejandra who has experienced this first-hand and has given us her opinion about it. Please note that Alejandra is not an expert/professional in mental health.

Important facts

To give you an idea of the impact of mental illness on young people, take a look at the following facts (WHO):

  • Emotional disorders. Globally, depression is the fourth leading cause of illness and disability among young people aged 15-19; anxiety is the ninth leading cause.
  • Behavioural disorders. They are the second leading cause of the burden of disease among adolescents aged 10-14 years; and the eleventh leading cause among those aged 15-19 years.
  • Eating disorders. These usually appear during adolescence and early adulthood. They often coexist with depression and/or anxiety.
  • Psychosis. Most commonly emerge in late adolescence or early adulthood.
  • Suicide and self-harm. Suicide is the fourth leading cause of death among adolescents worldwide. Mental problems play a key role in the emergence of suicidal behaviour, with depression and hopelessness being associated with 9 out of 10 cases of suicide.

The Covid-19 crisis had made these challenges even more urgent with many children and young people suffering from prolonged isolation and lack of interactions with teachers and peers, experiencing anxiety and psychological problems, and being exposed to more stressful home environments, with heavy consequences on their motivation and overall emotional well-being.

Some tips for good mental health

Your lifestyle influences your physical and mental state, and there are many things you can do to maintain a balance and try to preserve your health. However, you may follow all these and still need help from a professional.

  • Take care of your body. Practising sports has physical, mental and social health benefits. It is also a great ally in preventive and therapeutic intervention processes.
  • Take care of your nutrition and diet. Your nutritional state plays a very important role in your mental health. Therefore, it is important that you eat a balanced and varied diet.
  • Get enough sleep. Sleeping well and feeling rested is essential for a good quality of life.
  • Learn about your emotions. There are no good or bad emotions, they are all necessary for your well-being. They have the function of giving you information about what is happening, don't avoid them.
  • Communicate with your loved ones. Share how you feel with people you trust.
  • Have an active life. Achieve at least 10.000 steps a day
  • Remember that you are not alone. If you think you can't: ask for help.
  • It is ok not to be ok sometimes.

Barriers to seeking professional help

Access to mental health care resources may not always be easy, some people may struggle to find the right professional for them or be unable to afford the treatment they need if it is not covered by the public health system. Many public and non-for-profit services are there to support you free of charge, make sure to look around.

Another widespread obstacle to seeking help is the stigma attached to mental health problems and the fear of what others will think. It is necessary to dismantle misleading ideas about mental illnesses by educating ourselves and others about mental health and normalising asking for help to take care of our mental health.

How and where to ask for help?

There are many options and many places you can turn to for help, so if you need it, don't wait any longer! Here is a short list.
In education:

  • Tutor
  • School counselling department

In the medical or health field:

  • Specialised resources such as mental health centres
  • Suicide emergency call centres
  • Primary health care centre. There a general doctor will evaluate your condition and, depending on the outcome, may refer you to a mental health specialist.
  • Emergencies: 112. If your situation is life-threatening, get emergency help immediately by calling 112, available 24 hours a day.

In the social sphere:

  • Municipal services, both youth care services, educational services and social services.

In addition, each European country has its own helplines and services to support your mental health.

What is the European Union doing?

The European Commission has long been dedicated to improving the mental health of people and supports and complements national policies. It also selects and finances best practices implementation related to mental health, in line with national and EU priorities.

The main objective of the European Union in the field of mental health is to support real action, focusing on the needs and priorities of EU countries.

This clearly reflects the importance that should be given to mental health. We need to leave the stigma behind, talk about it and seek support because the earlier a mental health issue is tackled the better.

Additionally, the Joint Action on Mental Health (ImpleMENTAL) will implement a multi-level national suicide prevention programme and a system reform to strengthen community-based services with a specific focus on services for children and young people. More specifically, the multilingualiFightDepression awareness website aims to promote and increase awareness of depression and suicidal behaviour by providing comprehensive information about depression and its consequences.

The step-wise intervention programme to tackle depression will be implemented via the EEAD (European Alliance Against Depression) Best project, which targets depression and suicide globally. It also aims to reduce stigma, improve health literacy and increase help-seeking behaviour.

Last but not least, the European Commission has created a Youth Wiki that gathers information on national policies supporting the health and well-being of young people.

How much do you know about mental health? | European Youth Portal (2024)


What is the mental health strategy of the European Union? ›

The initiative's work on mental health will cluster around four priority areas: Supporting favourable conditions for mental health and increasing resilience, implementing mental-health-in-all policies. Promoting mental well-being and preventing mental health disorders.

How much do we know about mental disorders? ›

Despite the overwhelming body of research to which new findings are added almost every day, we scientists still don't understand what happens in the brains of mentally ill people. We don't really know yet which brain regions and connections are malformed or undeveloped, or when the brain goes awry or why.

Where is the mental health system ranked in Europe? ›

Where are the best places to live for mental health?
RankCountryRank Score
6 more rows
Mar 28, 2022

What are the mental health statistics in the EU? ›

Highlights. In 2019, some 7 % of the EU population aged 15 years and over reported experiencing chronic depression. In 2019, a higher proportion of women (8.7 %) than men (5.5 %) aged 15 years and over in the EU reported chronic depression.

How does the US compare to Europe mental health? ›

In 2016, nearly one-quarter (23%) of U.S. adults reported a mental health diagnosis, compared to fewer than 10 percent of adults in France, the Netherlands, and Germany.

What are the three systems of health care most European nations use? ›

Given that European nations have all been around far longer than America, they've tried almost every possible scenario and, for the most part, they've landed largely on three systems: single-payer, socialized, and privatized, but regulated.

What is the #1 most diagnosed mental disorder? ›

The most common are anxiety disorders major depression and bipolar disorder. Below is more information on these disorders and how ACCESS can help.

What are the 7 main mental disorders? ›

Many people also experience stigma, discrimination and violations of human rights.
  • Anxiety Disorders. ...
  • Depression. ...
  • Bipolar Disorder. ...
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) ...
  • Schizophrenia. ...
  • Eating Disorders. ...
  • Disruptive behaviour and dissocial disorders. ...
  • Neurodevelopmental disorders.
Jun 8, 2022

What are the top 5 major mental health disorders? ›

Below are the five most common mental health disorders in America and their related symptoms:
  • Anxiety Disorders. The most common category of mental health disorders in America impacts approximately 40 million adults 18 and older. ...
  • Mood Disorders. ...
  • Psychotic Disorders. ...
  • Dementia. ...
  • Eating disorders.
Jan 30, 2020

What country has the worst mental illness rates? ›

The United States, Colombia, the Netherlands and Ukraine tended to have higher prevalence estimates across most classes of disorder, while Nigeria, Shanghai and Italy were consistently low, and prevalence was lower in Asian countries in general.

What country handles mental illness the best? ›

Sweden. Sweden has the top positive mental health index which basically gives the mental health status of a given population.

Which country in Europe has highest mental health issues? ›

Share of the population reporting chronic depression (2019)

In 2019, among EU countries Portugal (12.2 per cent) had the highest share of the population reporting chronic depression, followed by Sweden (11.7 per cent), Germany and Croatia (both 11.6 per cent).

What is the mental health of students in Europe? ›

The mental health and well-being of young people in Europe is a high concern. In Europe, 40% of students experience mental health issues and approximately one in five struggle with mental disorders1. Many students suffer anxiety, depression and other serious mental health problems.

What is the rate of depression in the EU? ›

Just over 7% of the European Union's population reports having chronic depression, according to Eurostat figures from 2021.

What demographic has the highest mental illness rate? ›

People who identify as being two or more races (24.9%) are most likely to report any mental illness within the past year than any other race/ethnic group, followed by American Indian/Alaska Natives (22.7%), white (19%), and black (16.8%).

What is the mental health strategy? ›

Mental Health Foundation Strategy 2020-2025: Making Prevention Happen. Prevention of poor mental health is not only possible, but urgently needed. Our strategy affirms our commitment to making prevention happen, so that people across the UK can live mentally healthier lives.

What is the European disability strategy? ›

The Strategy for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities 2021-2030 was launched by the European Commission in 2021 with the aim to improve the condition of persons with disabilities in the EU over the next ten years, making sure that they can fully enjoy their rights, have equal opportunities and access to society and ...

What is the international strategy to promote mental health? ›

The Mental Health Action Plan 2013-2030 aims to promote mental health and well-being, prevent mental disorders, provide care, enhance recovery, promote human rights and reduce mortality, morbidity and disability for persons with mental disorders.

What is the European Roadmap for mental health research? ›

ROAMER is a three-year project funded by the European Commission, under the Seventh Framework Programme, to create a coordinated road map for the promotion and integration of mental health and well-being research across Europe, based on a common methodology and conceptual framework that covers the full spectrum of ...

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