The European Mental Health Week organised by Mental Health Europe raises awareness about the importance of mental health in our everyday lives and takes place from 10 May until 16 May 2021. The theme for the 2021 week is MentalHealthMatters – now more than ever. It aims to display mental health as a large societal problem as well as reflect on our deep personal experiences of living through the COVID-19 pandemic.

Pain is influenced by psychological factors (e.g stress, depression, anxiety) and so optimising mental health is very important in the lives of patients with pain. Research shows that both depression and anxiety can trigger episodes of pain and prolong the experience of pain.

The COVID-19 pandemic, in particular, has significant potential to exacerbate pain for individuals with chronic pain. Previous research displays that very stressful situations (e.g. war) increase symptom severity among individuals with chronic pain. Survey studies across Europe have found that individuals with chronic pain reported increases in pain intensity during the most restrictive part of the COVID-19 lockdown. Individuals with chronic pain reported higher levels of anxiety, depression, loneliness, and reduced levels of physical activity compared to individuals with no pain. Reduced opportunities for social support have also strong potential to contribute to poor psychological health and impact disability levels.

Physical activity and exercise are effective management strategies for many pain conditions and have a positive impact on our mental health.

The European Pain Federation EFIC supports any program that contributes to better physical and mental health, especially in regards to physical activity. To help patients with pain get active, check out The European Pain Federation’s On the Move campaign for tips and resources (available in 12 languages).

Given comorbidities like depression and anxiety are common in patients with pain, The EFIC 2022 Congress will focus on Pain and its Comorbidities in the Digital Age. For more information about the 2022 Congress, please visit: https://efic-congress.org

To access resources about mental health, please visit the European Mental Health Week website here.