Sankelmark declaration


We, participants of the EU Policy Forum “Monitoring Positive Mental Health Environments”, Akademie Sankelmark/Flensburg, Germany, 14-16 September 2009, acknowledge the importance of mental health for the European Union and that the analysis and evaluation of objective, reliable and comparable available information is needed to effectively formulate and monitor appropriate strategies and policies to promote mental health in all the European regions.

  1. We recognize that:                                                                                                                                                        In the last 20 years there has been growing European mental health policy activity. Mental health promotion is clearly related to the Lisbon strategy – on growth and jobs, social cohesion, innovation and sustainable development.                                                                                                                                                                          Lack of positive mental health can lead to higher prevalence of mental and physical illness, more health and social care usage, lower productivity and unemployment, poorer educational attainment, lack of community cohesion, social exclusion and higher crime rate.

Therefore mental health promotion is an essential priority for all European citizens.

Mental health promotion has to involve stakeholders with clear vision statements about mental health promotion. The actors need objective indicators to monitor and evaluate their work. Networks of policy makers, stakeholders and project managers assessing their work with appropriate tools will be influential in developing mental health promotion policies, in the different European regions.

  1. We support: 

Mental health promotion policies must be transparent and with a global and holistic vision. Different aspects of the goals of mental health promotion contain important values. A comprehensive mental health promotion strategy is most effective in societies where there is some stability in the cooperation among different stakeholders, some long term experience in social participation and the possibility to regionally coordinate social resources and assess social policies. We encourage a regional approach to planning and implementing mental health promotion policies.

The EU Project “Monitoring Mental Health Environments” offers a template for planning mental health promoting policies. The goal of the project has been to compare different mental health promoting policies and test out indicators of positive mental health. The work has been based on the evidence given by social epidemiology and the policy analysis approach. The products can help policy makers, programme managers, professionals from health and other sectors, media and interested citizens to introduce and implement mental health promotion policies in all European regions. Several supporting products have been developed including a toolkit.

  1. We propose a Mental Health Promotion Policy Agenda                                                                                              a) Development of cross-European discourse

 To develop a clear and explicit discourse about the characteristics of mental health promotion policies as long term policies, with clear actions and timescales, as well as with a holistic and global vision of mental health promotion.

                      b) Regional mental health promotion policy

Each region to develop, implement and evaluate a mental health promotion policy based in all European regions.

Working groups should be organized for mental health promotion planning, implementation and monitoring in each European region. The toolkit could be useful to help in this work. It would be convenient for this group to be multidisciplinary (e.g. public health experts, psychologists, sociologists, economists, psychiatrists, politicians, interested citizens and NGOs).

              c) Leadership and champions

To identify leadership in each European region to coordinate the policy and working group. To identify champions for mental health promotion who can advocate and raise expectations for positive mental health.

             d) Cooperation between different European regions

Currently, the policy analysis approach is the most useful methodology to understand why in some countries there are mental health promotion programmes flourishing and at the same time others are languishing. A group of experts and stakeholders from different European regions should aim to achieve the goal of ongoing mental health promotion policy analysis and ongoing development of environments and enablers for effective policy implementation.

               e) Data collection

To collect and analyse structural level activity in mental health promotion through a comprehensive set of indicators.

To use structural indicators of positive mental health to inform and evaluate policy.

            f) Media and technology

Mass media is one of the influential actors in mental health promotion. Strategies of the mass media with a comprehensive mental health promotion policy in TV channels, radios, internet and newspapers should be developed in every European country.

To maximize the use of new media technology, information and innovations to promote positive mental health.

            g) Further research

In European Research Area mental health promotion and policy research should be enhanced and funded by targeting the calls to this topic and promoting networking of researchers.

Further evaluation of mental health programmes is needed to build the evidence base and it should be incorporated in all policies.

  1. We invite

 All stakeholders to support the implementation of the Sankelmark Declaration to achieve its objectives.