On June 20, EUREGHA, as the Secretariat of the Interregional Group on Health and Wellbeing (IRGHW) of the Committee of the Regions (CoR), organized a dynamic session dedicated to youth mental health at the regional and local European level, in light of the recently adopted CoR Opinion on Mental Health. Dorota Tomalak, Deputy Head of Unit at CoR’s NAT, opened the panel by presenting the current state of mental health in the European Union. Over the past 12 months, 46% of European citizens reported emotional or psychological problems, and 25% stated that they or a family member had encountered difficulties accessing mental health services. The support of medical personnel is crucial to addressing these issues, but access to services varies significantly depending on residence, with many rural areas being left as “rural deserts.”

The session then highlighted several regional projects successfully addressing these issues.

First, the Basque Country presented its initiatives, with Miguel Angel Gonzalez Torres, Head of Psychiatry at Basurto University Hospital, discussing the SEE/DBT-STEPS-A project. Implemented between 2017 and 2024, this project aims to prevent and promote adolescent mental health through socio-emotional education (SEE) in schools.

Next, Aki Ishiwa, Senior Policy Officer at the Emilia-Romagna Region‘s EU Office, presented the “Recovery College Model for Young People“, aimed at individuals aged 16 to 25. These colleges allow young people to share their experiences with professionals through a process of training and learning.

Lastly, Hannes Jarke, Project Coordinator for Mental Health Policy at EuroHealthNet, outlined the Schools4Health project (2023-2025). This initiative seeks to introduce, strengthen, and sustain participatory, cross-sectoral approaches to health promotion in schools. Then, he gave an overview of the the IceHearts Europe Project, focused on mental health for children aged 6 to 18, which combines learning a sport with learning social norms and daily interactions.

The session underscored the need for uniform access to mental health services and the importance of innovative projects to support the psychological well-being of young people in Europe. A comprehensive report of the meeting is available here for further details.