On 7th November 2023, the ENVI Committee voted in favour of the SANT Sub-Committee Report on Mental Health.

One of the main priorities for the Societal Impact of Pain (SIP) Platform in 2023 has been pain and mental health. In June 2023, the European Commission launched it’s European Mental Health Strategy, and ahead of such launch, SIP published, in May 2023, its SIP Joint Statement on Pain and Mental Health, in collaboration with ten different organisations working in the field of pain, pain-related or mental health policies.

The SIP Joint Statement on Pain and Mental Health discusses the following:

Mental health disorders and chronic pain frequently co-occur and influence each other, creating a vicious cycle of disability. Further, both pain and mental health conditions cause reduced quality of life, mobility and social participation across the lifespan. When treated in isolation, the treatment of mental health conditions is less successful if patients also have chronic pain, and the treatment of chronic pain is less successful if patients also have a mental health condition. Unfortunately, pain is not routinely assessed or addressed in people with mental health disorders. At the same time, mental health conditions like depression are often underrecognised and thus undertreated in people with chronic pain. Both chronic pain and mental health conditions are best conceptualised as experiences involving complex interactions between biological, psychological, and social factors. Contemporary management of pain places a large focus on bio-psycho-social assessment and treatment, where all these factors are addressed when relevant to each individual patient. Therefore, recognising and addressing pain in mental health settings and policies are essential to optimise meeting the needs of people with both pain and mental health conditions.The nine recommendations in the Statement call upon EU and national policy makers to ensure a range of aspects related to pain and mental health are acknowledged in health policy.

Further, SIP engaged earlier this year with the Rapporteur and Shadow Rapporteurs of the SANT Sub-Committee Report on Mental Health, to ensure the above aspects, amongst others, were carefully looked at and included in the Report. SIP is therefore delighted to announce the inclusion of its Amendments in the final Report, which will be ratified at the Plenary session on 11th December 2023.

The more than 25 Amendments, include references to:

  • Pain and chronic pain;
  • The co-occurrence of chronic conditions and mental health;
  • Quality of life and disability;
  • Integrated, holistic, multidisciplinary care;
  • Workplace adaptation and reintegration;
  • The impact of good work on wellbeing;
  • The barrier for recognition of chronic and mental conditions, that supposes stigma and discrimination;
  • Raising awareness through targeted campaigns;
  • The need for a cultural change;
  • The importance of early diagnosis;
  • Involving people with lived experiences in developing integrating services and;
  • The need for more research and funding on the close link between chronic and mental health condition.

SIP welcomes the SANT Sub-Committee Report on Mental Health and the inclusion of the above mentioned aspects, and will continue to engage with policymakers during the upcoming months, on the need to keep pain and mental health on the next EU Health Policy Agenda.