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European Union

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European Union

eu overview

The European Union (EU) provided US $14.9 billion in official development assistance (ODA) in 2019. The New European Consensus on Development (2017) serves as a framework for development cooperation, with poverty eradication as a main objective. Mental health is featured in this policy with a commitment to promoting mental health and addressing the growing burden of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) in partner countries.


Global mental health support

The EU has been cited as a top donor in global mental health spending US $152.85 million from 2007-2013, as well as a channel for funds, with the European Commission channelling US $17 million in development assistance to mental health (DAMH) in 2019. Some areas that were funded in the past include: (1) an evaluation of best practices for dementia; 2) mental health in the workplace strategy assessments; 3) the creation of mental health brochures; 4) Mental Health Promotion Handbooks; and 5) the mental health research project EMERALD.

Further examples include strengthening mental health services at primary and secondary care levels in the West Bank and Gaza, and support to Medecins du Monde for providing mental health and psychosocial support (MHPSS) to survivors of gender based violence (GBV). The EU (ECHO) is a member of the MHPSS donor group. 


Strategy for global mental health

Mental health is included in the overall EU’s development strategy, the European Consensus on Development (2017).

Domestic mental health

The EU has demonstrated a strong interest in mental health using a MHiap (mental health in all policies) approach. In 2013, the Joint Action for Mental Health and Well-being was launched to create a framework for mental health action at the European level. This resulted in the creation of the European Framework for Action on Mental Health and Wellbeing, launched in 2016. A yearly brochure, EU Compass for Action, was also relaunched in 2016 monitoring policies and highlighting mental health projects and progress across Europe.

Key stakeholders

Council of the European Union: Within this entity, the Foreign Affairs Council includes various Ministries from EU countries that meet annually to coordinate policies

DG SANTE: develops EU policy on food safety and public health 

Directorate-General for European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations ECHO is responsible for humanitarian response  

The EU’s development funding comes mainly from two sources: the European Development Fund (EDF) which provides funds for African, Caribbean and Pacific countries, and the Development Cooperation Instrument (DCI) which provides funds primarily to countries in Asia and Latin America focusing on poverty reduction

Directorate-General for Development Cooperation (DG DEVCO) / EuropeAid is responsible for developing and implementing the EU’s development policy and manages the EDF and DCI. DevCo have demonstrated interest in mental health but focuses on conflict and post-conflict countries  


Key decision makers

President, European Commission: Ursula von der Leyen 

President, European Council:  Charles Michel 

Financing global mental health

According to analysis (2015 Gilbert et al), between 2007 and 2013 total development assistance to mental health (DAMH) accounted for US$152.85 million, making the EU the second largest cumulative donor during this period.

Global health overview

In 2017 the EU spent US$1.2 billion on global health (6% of total official development assistance (ODA)). Some 79%, or US$928 million is provided as bilateral ODA and 38% or US$355 million is for multilaterals.

The EU has made pledges and contributions to the following to global initiatives:

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