Policy Brief


The COVID-19 pandemic has had an unprecedented impact on our societies, disrupting all aspects of our lives. At the height of the crisis, the effects of COVID-19 on physical health necessarily took centre stage. But over two years on, the severe consequences of COVID-19 on mental health are continuing to reveal themselves and require a strong response to reduce suffering and preventable deaths.

In this series, “Mental health and suicide during the pandemic”, FEPS and Fondation Jean-Jaurès explore how the pandemic and its socio-economic effects impacted mental health and suicide in Europe using the results from surveys in six countries (Germany, France, Ireland, Poland, Spain, and Sweden) conducted in May 2022. The briefs seek to highlight the level of mental health impact and need during and since the pandemic, to identify vulnerable groups, and highlight contributing factors. Based on the findings, we provide a set of recommendations for governments to improve mental healthcare and strengthen suicide prevention. 

Mental health and suicide during the pandemic Series: France.

France was one of the countries hardest hit by the first wave of COVID-19 and it remains the European country with the highest number of cases. How has this affected mental health in the country? In this brief, we explore the characteristics associated with the French being the most likely to attempt suicide among the six European countries surveyed in this series and what can be done to tackle this.  

Mental health and suicide during the pandemic Series: Germany.

In Germany, suicidal thoughts during the pandemic appeared to be associated with inequalities and poor working conditions that existed well before the outbreak began. In that context, can tackling precarity and poverty help reduce mental distress? This is one of the many elements explored in this brief. 

Mental health and suicide during the pandemic Series: Ireland.
By Dr Sadhbh BYRNE 

Ireland implemented some of the strictest lockdown measures in the EU and just over half of survey respondents reported feeling more depressed since the onset of the pandemic. In this brief, further analysis is provided on the demographics of those impacted and how to better support them.   

Mental health and suicide during the pandemic Series: Poland.

Before the pandemic, Poland already had one of the highest suicide rates in Europe. In this brief, we explore the factors that have contributed to Poland becoming a high-risk population, how these trends have progressed during COVID-19, and finally how the country can move beyond a biomedical approach to prevent suicide.  

Mental health and suicide during the pandemic Series: Spain.

In 2022, Spain reached the highest death rates from suicide in the country’s history. In this brief, we explore how the pandemic affected the mental health of Spaniards and what can be done to reverse this trend.   

Mental health and suicide during the pandemic Series: Sweden.

Sweden remained open to a larger extent than its neighbouring countries. Yet this national policy brief shows that mental health impacts were still significant in the country despite an overall decrease in suicide in the last 25 years. While Sweden is a country associated with a strong welfare system, we identify strong links between mental ill-health and socio-economic factors requiring more holistic approaches.   

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