BRUSSELS: The European Parliament has adopted a report laying out a strategy for promoting gender equality in mental health and clinical trials, co-authored by Labour MEP Julie Ward.

The report calls on the Commission and EU Member States to follow up on the EU Mental Health Compass and Joint Action Plan on Mental Health with a comprehensive strategy which emphasises a psychosocial approach to mental health, taking into account socio-economic and environmental factors.

Women are far more likely to experience anxiety and depression and face many more negative mental health determinants than men, such as the influence of media and online pressure, or gender-based violence. Men and boys, meanwhile, are more likely to commit suicide or experience drug and alcohol addiction. The report calls for gender to be put at the heart of any future European strategy, including a specific focus on vulnerable groups.

The European Parliament also recognised that women’s medical and health needs have long been excluded in medical research and clinical trials, putting the lives of women and girls at risk. The report emphasises the need for medical research to take into account the physiological differences between women and men, and ensure that clinical trials include a fair representation of women.

“It is clear that in order to achieve real mental well-being, we must take a holistic approach, which takes into account social inequalities, and the impact of social policies. Austerity and cuts to social services, for example, harm women and their well-being disproportionately, and we must address these impacts. We must also address the situation of specific groups such as refugee women, women with disabilities, or LGBTIQ women, and others.”

“We must invest in education on mental health and well-being in order to break down stereotypes, stigmas and taboos. We must bring a conversation on gender and mental well-being into school, the workplace, and our media. We also need to pay special attention to the impact of our online life on our mental well-being, and address the needs of vulnerable young people, particularly young girls.”

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