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Mental health issues cost EU 4 pct of GDP: report

22 November 2018, 18:10 CET
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Mental health issues cost EU 4 pct of GDP: report

Photo © SURABKY - Fotolia

(BRUSSELS) - Mental health and preventing mental illness not only have social consequences but are estimated to cost more than 4 per cent of GDP across the EU, the 2018 'Health at a Glance: Europe reports.

The 2018 Health at a Glance: Europe joint report of the European Commission and the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) shows that the steady increase of life expectancy has slowed down and that large gaps across and within countries persist, notably leaving people with a low level of education by the wayside. This report is based upon comparative analyses of the health status of EU citizens and the performance of the health systems in the 28 Member States, 5 candidate countries and 3 EFTA countries.

"Many lives could be saved by increasing our efforts to promote healthy lifestyles and tackle risk factors such as tobacco or lack of physical activity," said Health Commissioner Vytenis Andriukaitis: "It is unacceptable that every year in the EU we are losing more than 1.2 million people prematurely when this could be avoided through better disease prevention and more effective health care interventions."

The report also calls for addressing risk factors like smoking, alcohol and obesity, reducing premature mortality, ensuring universal access to care and strengthening the resilience of health systems.

Key findings

  • Until recently, life expectancy was rising rapidly and steadily across EU countries. However, since 2011, the gains in life expectancy have slowed down markedly. Moreover, large disparities in life expectancy persist not only by sex but also by socio-economic status. For instance, on average across the EU, 30-year-old men with a low level of education can expect to live about 8 years less than those with a university degree.
  • Evidence from various countries suggests that up to 20 % of health spending could be reallocated for better use. A mix of policy levers could optimise spending by ensuring value for money, for example in the selection and coverage or procurement and pricing of pharmaceutics through Health Technology Assessment.
  • Over 84,000 people died of the consequences of mental health problems across Europe in 2015. The total costs arising from mental health problems are estimated to amount to over EUR 600 billion per year.
  • Nearly 40% of adolescents report at least one binge-drinking event in the preceding month. Although alcohol control policies have helped reduce overall alcohol consumption in several EU countries, heavy alcohol consumption among both adolescents and adults remains an important public health issue.
  • Low-income households are five times more likely to report unmet care needs than high-income households.

State of Health in the EU

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