Council Conclusions on a comprehensive approach to the mental health of young people in the European Union recognise the importance of Sport and Physical Activity for Youth well-being

On the 23 and 24 of November 2023, the Council of the EU gathered in its configuration “Education, Youth, Culture and Sport” to discuss, among other topics, youth mainstreaming, young people’s mental health, equality and a safe environment in sport, and the importance of education and training for democratic citizenship.

 During the Youth session, on the 23 of November, the Youth Ministers approved Council Conclusions on promoting youth mainstreaming in policy decision-making processes in the European Union and held a debate on the role of young people in decision-making processes within the EU, both of which addressed the EU Youth Test as a tool to measure the impact of EU policies in young people by integrating a Youth perspective in the impact assessment of EU legislation. 

The Youth Ministers also approved the Council Conclusions on a comprehensive approach to the mental health of young people in the European Union, which recognises the importance of sport and physical activity for the health and well-being of young people.

The document builds on the European Commission’s Communication “A comprehensive approach to mental health”, highlighting the multiple factors that can impact young people’s mental health, such as employment status, housing, or physical health, and the importance of taking an integrated multi-sectoral approach, including preventive measures and awareness raising to a topic that remains stigmatised within our societies.

As such, the acknowledgement of sport and physical activity as key determinants for young people’s mental health and well-being comes at a crucial time after the implementation of the European Year of Youth 2022 and the impetus on mental health across the EU agenda, where Young People have been highlighting the importance of sport and physical activity in their daily lives in order to cope with mental distress and maintain healthy lifestyles.

It is also worth noticing that the recent Council Conclusion’s focus on sport and physical activity builds on the previous Council Conclusions approved under Swedish Presidency, which mentioned the need for an increased focus on mental health and organised sports activities.

ENGSO Youth welcomes the recently approved Council Conclusions and is delighted to see a continuous recognition of the importance of Sport for Youth, something that we have been advocating for since our inception two decades ago, in 2002. 

It should also be highlighted the timely debate Youth Ministers held on the role of young people in decision-making processes, an extremely important topic for young people, over which ENGSO Youth just launched its recent position paper on Youth Participation in Sport Organisations underlining the need to address young people’s underrepresentation in decision-making processes within Sport. 

As youth underrepresentation in decision-making is transversal across public policy areas, it is, therefore, essential to ensure that young people are able to exercise their right to democratic participation and to have their voices heard on decisions that will shape their present and future, including in Sport.

The recent developments in EU Youth and Sport policy show the increased relevance of ENGSO Youth’s mission in giving Youth a real say in Sport and highlight the unique role of Sport in ensuring safe spaces for young people’s participation in society whilst promoting their physical and mental health and well-being.

Engso Youth Council Conclusions On A Comprehensive Approach To The Mental Health Of Young People In The European Union

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