Ladies and Gentlemen,
I have the honour to speak on behalf of the European Union and its Member States.
The Candidate Country Montenegro aligns itself with this statement.
The COVID 19 health crisis has exacerbated mental health conditions and it has severely impacted the well-being of populations around the globe. The report published by the Secretariat underlines the concerns and negative trends we are observing in the current context.
Measures to control COVID-19 have caused people with mental health conditions to be further isolated from their usual activities and contacts, leading to increased marginalization, distress and have deepened concern over increased feeling of fear, anxiety and loneliness.
It is worrying to note that due to COVID-19, mental health and psychosocial support services have in many countries been severely disrupted.
The EU is equally concerned that human rights violations against people with mental health conditions are numerous and widespread around the world.
People living in fragile countries and humanitarian settings have seen their mental health conditions severely impacted by the COVID 19 crisis. The pandemic has added another layer of complexity to already pre-existing humanitarian needs, especially with regard to increased violence and abuse, driven by school dropout and lack of access to people in need, medication and food.
Although all categories of people, age and gender are concerned, a worrying trend is being observed in children, adolescents, young adults, elderly, health and care personnel, marginalized and vulnerable people.
The EU and its Member States are concerned by the emerging trends showing that social restrictions related to the pandemic are likely to cause increased depression, alcohol and other substance use as well as online gaming and gambling in different segments of the population. The long term impacts of these trends will be difficult to address considering the immense challenges the pandemic is continuing to pose.
Risk factors like unemployment and financial instability; missed education, and lost prospects; social isolation; intimate partner and family violence; fear of life-threatening disease in self or loved ones; and sudden loss of loved ones are likely to add to increasing amounts of distress in our societies.
We are encouraged to note that there is increased awareness among policy makers that the mental health crisis is of utmost concern and needs to be addressed as a matter of priority, taking into consideration the need to adopt a whole-of-society approach to promote, protect and care for mental health.
The EU and its Member States are committed to address immediate needs related to the availability of emergency mental health and psychosocial support and building mental health services and community support for a speedy recovery from the COVID 19 pandemic. At the same time, we recommend the Secretariat as well as Member States to use the current momentum to catalyze mental health reforms and to build back better, ensuring that mental health is part of universal health coverage in our societies. Likewise, we recommend the Secretariat to ensuring that mental health and psychosocial support is considered as a cross-cutting component in emergency preparedness and response, including by increasing public knowledge on mental health and working against any forms of stigmatization.
Montenegro continues to be part of the Stabilisation and Association Process.