On October 10, in an effort to raise awareness of mental health issues and to mobilize action to build mental resilience, the world celebrates World Mental Health Day .

The COVID-19 pandemic and the economic challenges of recovery have negatively affected the mental health of many people and created new barriers for people already suffering from mental illness. This has also been the devastating reality of a rapidly advancing crisis in many countries in South-Eastern Europe.

The hot spots revealed by the crisis, highlighted a truth that has been so ignored, the necessity to invest in mental health as a basis for the sustainable development of our societies. The most vulnerable are always particularly affected.

Investing in mental health is key to changing societal attitudes. We need to focus on many fronts, from improving access to treatment and supporting research to identifying new therapies, to increasing the quality of mental health services and mental health awareness, and enhancing efforts to reduce the associated stigma.

Progress must go hand in hand with a strong cultural transformation. Education has a crucial role to play in making our strategies person-centred and truly inclusive.

It is encouraging that mental health is central to the WHO Euro new European Work Program. The recent launch of the Pan-European Coalition for Mental Health is a stark example of strong partnerships designed to ensure significant and sustained positive impacts.

The South-Eastern Europe Health Network  (SEEHN) remains committed to ongoing commitment to work together in a joint effort to reverse the trends in mental health disorders. SEEHN needs to continue to improve the synergies between national governments, European authorities and civil society to address the links between mental health, poverty and social inequality, access to universal health coverage and holistic well-being.

Particular emphasis should be placed on the healthcare professionals.

The SEE Health Network recently conducted a study on workplace stress in health workers during the COVID-19 pandemic.  The results of this study released at the 17th meeting of the SEE Network on Workers Health (SEENWH) on Occupational Health “Health workers during COVID-19 pandemics” revealed in the Network member states different levels of stress, burnout, depersonalization experienced by frontline health professionals caused by both high job and organizational demand and low job satisfaction.

The SEEHN strongly encourages its Member States to take urgent action to protect the mental wellbeing of the health professionals and to further extend resources to fight the silent mental health pandemic. We must continue to work to strengthen our European commitment to mental health as a rights-based approach, to provide us with the tools we need to effectively address the adverse world we live in today.

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