Statement by FRA Director Morten Kjaerum on the occasion of World Mental Health Day

Image of 2 senior woman on occasion of the World Mental Health Day
Image of 2 senior woman on occasion of the World Mental Health Day
One in every four European adults is affected by mental health problems, studies suggest. On World Mental Health Day 2010, EU Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) Director Morten Kjaerum makes the link between mental health and fundamental rights and underlines the importance of the work of the FRA in this area:

"Mental health problems affect individuals and their families, friends and colleagues across the European Union. However, many people with mental health problems feel that they cannot talk about their problem, or risk being branded "mad" or "different" when they do. This can lead to these individuals being denied rights that other people enjoy, such as the right to education, the right to healthcare, or the right to vote. In many EU Member States, for example, it is the law that denies persons with mental health problems the right to vote. The FRA is currently working with this group of individuals to understand the barriers they face to exercising some of their basic rights."

On 8 November, the Agency will publish a report about the right to political participation of persons with intellectual disabilities and persons with mental health problems (including the right to vote). The report will be presented at a conference organised by the European Commission on promoting social inclusion and combating stigma for better mental health and well-being.

Click here for more information about FRA work on the fundamental rights of persons with mental health problems.

Mental Health refers to how people think, feel, and look at themselves and their lives; how they relate to other people in their lives; how people interact with their own environment in ways that promote their sense of well-being, enhance personal development, and allow achieving personal life goals; how people evaluate challenges and problems; how they explore choices, make decisions, and act when faced with life's situations, including handling stress.

Mental Health Problems/Disorders refer to problems that affect a person's thoughts, body, feelings, and behavior. They can be severe, seriously interfering with a person's life, and even cause a person to become disabled or commit suicide. Mental health problems include depression, bipolar disorder (manic-depressive illness), attention-deficit/ hyperactivity disorder, anxiety disorders, eating disorders, schizophrenia, and conduct disorder.