Most urgent ethical problems in European Psychiatry – An Inquiry


Past WHO European Advisor for Mental Health, Stockholm, Sweden


During the present decade matters of ethics have been increasingly the focus of European National Psychiatric Associations and on the agenda of the European Psychiatric Association (EPA).

Discussions in the association’s ethical committee have scrutinized the problems and elucidated the range of ethical dilemmas. A questionnaire sent by the Committee in 2011 to the National European Psychiatric Associations has given a first panorama of ethical problems in European Psychiatry and showed already their diversity but even communalities. This overview has been presented at different meetings of the EPA and has been reviewed, updated and additionally commented by all committed European national associations in 2014.  Hereby, new problems in European psychiatry have emerged or became again underlined   e.g. the demand on psychiatry’s ethical  involvement in end of life issues as well as the consequences of   financing routines in times of resource limitations and changed  prioritizations within   medical  care and mental health support  systems implied by an  ever  more predominant market economy.

Other re-emerged problems are questions and problems in contact with private sectors of users’ organizations, care providers or pharmaceutical industries and the need and strategies for multi disciplinary   involvement in psychiatric education and research support.                                                             

In this presentation these recently emerged ethical challenges will be elucidated and some positions of national psychiatric associations and their actually updated priorities regarding ethical challenges will be reviewed. Activities and structures regarding a continuous ethical sensitization as well as needs of a sustainable ethical agenda in European psychiatry will be addressed.