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Mental Health and Pain Policy

26th Sep 2023

Ahead of the upcoming European Commission European Mental Health Strategy and under the umbrella of the Societal Impact of Pain (SIP) Platform, a gathering of ten European professional and patient organisations have developed a Joint Statement on the close link between pain and mental health. The nine recommendations call upon EU and national policy makers to ensure a range of aspects related to pain and mental health are acknowledged in health policy.

In Europe there are approximately 740 million people, most of whom experience an episode of severe pain at some point in their life. For approximately 20 percent, that pain persists for longer than three months and will  be  chronic  pain.  Therefore,  at  present,  150  million  people  are  experiencing  chronic  pain  across  Europe, approximately equal to the population of  France and Germany combined. Chronic pain is more prevalent in women than  in  men,  with  some  estimates  suggesting  that women  are  twice  as  likely  to  experience  chronic pain as men.

Mental health conditions and chronic pain frequently co-occur and influence each other, creating a vicious cycle of disability. Both pain and mental health conditions cause reduced quality of life, mobility and social participation across the lifespan. When treated in isolation, the treatment of mental health conditions is less successful if patients also have chronic pain, and the treatment of chronic pain is less successful if patients also have a mental health condition. Unfortunately, pain is not routinely assessed or addressed in people with mental health conditions. At the same time, mental health conditions like depression are often underrecognised and thus undertreated in people with chronic pain.

Both chronic pain and mental health conditions are best conceptualised as experiences involving complex interactions between biological, psychological, and social factors. Contemporary management of pain places a large focus on bio-psycho-social assessment and treatment, where all these factors are addressed when relevant to each individual patient.

Recognising and addressing pain in mental health settings and policies are essential to optimise meeting the needs of people with both pain and mental health conditions.


Please download the SIP Joint Statement on Pain and Mental Health here!

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