The restrictions imposed to combat the Covid-19 pandemic have had “a devastating effect” on the mental health and well-being of children and young adults – affected in particular by disruption in education, social isolation and economic instability – according to the Committee on Social Affairs, Health and Sustainable Development. Furthermore, the younger generation has suffered from phenomena such as the global financial crisis, the cost-of-living crisis, uncertainties on the job market, a war in Europe, the ever-intensifying climate crisis and digitalisation, it added.
Against this backdrop, the committee called for integrating mental health into national health systems, especially primary and community-based health services, underlining that “there is no health without mental health”. It also recommended that member States decentralise mental health services to ensure that people get timely care regardless of where they live, while guaranteeing that everybody has access to these services, irrespective of their socioeconomic status, ethnic background, sexuality, gender identity or legal status.
The report by Simon Moutquin (Belgium, SOC) adopted unanimously by the committee, proposes a set of measures to address other concerns impacting on young people's mental health (such as socio-economic inequalities or employment insecurity), and to protect their mental health in the event of a public health emergency or confinement period.
The committee also recommended that national parliaments empower children and young people in policy-making processes.
Finally, the parliamentarians emphasised that mental healthcare must be provided on a voluntary basis and respect the autonomy of the person receiving care, adding that “any decisions of the Committee of Ministers should reflect this human rights imperative, and be taken in line with the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD).