The EU's new strategy on mental health, presented in a Green Paper, is important for all the Member States. However, it is twice or even three times as important for the new Member States and the applicant countries. In that part of Europe, mental health indicators paint a disheartening picture: it is still standard practice to invest not in bodies and services whose aim is to improve welfare, but rather in practices which perpetuate traditions of stigmatisation, discrimination and social exclusion inherited from the past. Escaping this vicious circle calls for determined political action and investment in new areas. Some Member States are determined to employ just that approach: for example, Lithuania has made preparations and its parliament is currently in the process of adopting a new national strategy on mental health.
The transition from a statement of new political objectives to practical action will be a very difficult one. How could the European Union, and in particular the Commission, contribute to the process of fundamental change in the new Member States? Would it not make sense to provide even more detailed information about the need for new, high-quality investment in order to cope with the challenges associated with mental health? What mental health-related problems in the new EU Member States does the Commission regard as most important, and what specific forms of investment is it recommending, in the light of these countries' increasing prosperity?