The ability of welfare and educational systems to meet needs of people with mental disorders

AP23 G 1030 BH 02 Healthcare

Analysis of the results published in the latest report Headway - A new roadmap in Mental Health (2023), an initiative created by Think Tank The European House – Ambrosetti in partnership with Angelini Pharma.

Mens sana in corpore sano is a Latin phrase emphasizing how physical health is essential for mental health. Had the Romans read the new Headway – Mental Health Index 3.0 by European House Ambrosetti and Angelini Pharma, they would have known that school and workplace conditions are equally important.


Mental illness impact: unemployment, part-time work, lower wages, and early retirement rates

According to OECD data, mental illness, especially of the mild-to-moderate kind, affects as much as 20% of the working-age population. Concurrently, the Headway Report shows considerable and systematic disadvantages for people with mental health issues with higher unemployment rates (+7.7 p.p. on average across OECD countries), higher probabilities of working part-time (+5.9 p.p. on average across OECD countries), lower wages (gap up to 30% in the EU), and higher chances of early retirement (up to 80% in the EU).


Targeted interventions beginning from school

EU Mental Health Disparities: From Struggles to Success, Varying Approaches in Countries

To tackle these numbers, it is crucial for European States to support the mental healthcare infrastructure while working to promote awareness and prevention, starting from school. Indeed, based on European data, about 20% of children experience mental health problems during their education, and 1 in 5 reports unhappiness and anxiety about the future due to bullying, challenges with schoolwork, and loneliness.


EU Mental Health disparities: from struggles to success, varying approaches in countries

EU Countries, however, differ widely in their ability to address these needs. Some, like Italy, struggle to make their first steps by introducing the school psychologist, an otherwise common figure in European schools. Others, like Hungary, Portugal, and Romania, have greatly improved the responsiveness of their mental health system in schools, workplaces, and society. While Germany, for instance, is already seeing the benefits of its investments with a +15,5 in the employment rate of severely mentally distressed people compared to the EU27+UK average.


Final results of the Headway – Mental Health Index 3.0 comparing EU17+UK states in their ability to respond to mental healthcare needs.


Quoting the Headway Report…

Mental Health is becoming an integral part of Member States’ health policies. In the year in which the European Commission launched its first EU Mental Health Strategy, not keeping up the momentum would become a lost opportunity for decision-makers to build on the progress made so far. It is therefore urgent to continue to grow and strengthen the commitment to improving mental well-being across Europe, fostering a healthier and more resilient society for current and future generations.