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EACEA National Policies Platform


7. Health and Well-Being

7.5 Mental health

Last update: 22 March 2024
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  1. National strategy(ies)
  2. Improving the mental health of young people

National strategy(ies)

There is not stand-alone strategy for mental health of young people in Bulgaria. The strategic document covering the mental health matters in the country is the National Strategy for Mental Health of the Citizens of the Republic of Bulgaria 2021- 2030 (Националната стратегия за психично здраве на гражданите на Р България 2021- 2030). Тhe Strategy is prepared and implemented by the Ministry of Health

The Strategy concerns:

  • the current state of mental health at national level 

  • the current state of the psychiatric care system, including of child and adolescent psychiatry 

  • the vision for modern psychiatric care 

  • the integration of cross-sectoral policies - health care, social activities, education, justice and culture 

  • monitoring and verification of the implementation of the Strategy 

  • management bodies of the Strategy 

  • challenges and funding of the Strategy

The main objectives of the Strategy are: reduction of morbidity, morbidity and mortality from mental disorders, integrating psychiatric services into general medical care (deinstitutionalization), reducing the use of alcohol and narcotic substances and reduction of the manifestations of aggression and autoaggression, development of child-adolescent psychiatry, psychiatry in elderly age and forensic psychiatry. Special focus is put on child mental health in accordance with the Convention on the rights of the child to ensure special protection of children's rights, including the right to health and access to health and medical care; introduction of a system for collecting statistical information by region, type of mental illnesses among children, age and their analysis, including conducting targeted studies on mental illness among children, separately by ages; development of specific measures and incentives to attract and retain specialists in child and adolescent psychiatry, forensic psychiatry and psychiatry of elderly. 

Another important strategic document that directly refers to the mental health of young people is the National Youth Strategy 2021-2030 (Национална стратегия за младежта 2021-2030). Prevention of young people’s mental health-related problems is among the strategic objectives. Foreseen measures include raising the awareness of young people for obtaining psychological support and ensuring access to the psychological support service for young people. 

The use of these substances can cause a number of somatic problems, and in the field of mental health they are associated with the development of addictions, the inability to learn and remember information, as well as with a number of psychological problems such as aggression, depression, psychoses, suicide and severe anxiety. Тhe data from the national survey among young people indicate that a significant number of young people in our country are smokers – 40% practically consume traditional cigarettes every day. 14% of young people under the age of 18 also do not hesitate to say that they are smokers, having in mind that there are probably attempts to conceal and consciously deny consumption within this group. The proportion of smokers approaches one in two among the 18-24 and 15-29 age groups – which speaks of an earlier manifestation of the habit of using cigarettes. However, the fact that over a tenth of minors and 17.8% of students do not bother to share that they smoke every day raises concerns. 

Weak alcoholic beverages (such as beer and wine) are consumed on daily basis by 7.3% of the young respondents. Over a quarter consume light alcoholic beverages less often, but not less than once a week. The use of strong alcoholic beverages is also not foreign to the everyday life of Bulgarian youth. Two out of five, for example, say they know someone at their age who consumes concentrated alcohol daily. The shares of declared acquaintances reach an impressive 76.9% when it comes to use once a week or a little more often. 

The use of marijuana is also not unusual for young people in our country. About a tenth say they have friends at their age who use marijuana daily, and about a fifth say they have friends for whom regular (at least once a week, though not every day) use is commonplace.

Improving the mental health of young people

As one of the mechanisms to deal with these worrying data from the youth survey, the Ministry of Youth and Sports has set the priority for promotion of healthy and environmental-friendly lifestyle in the National Youth Strategy (2021-2030). Encouraging young people to practice sports and healthy lifestyle plays the role of a solid prevention against aggression and addictions. A strategic objective of the Strategy in the field of youth mental health is to prevent young people’s mental health-related problems by increasing the awareness of young people to receive psychological support, as well as by providing them with access to this service, which is expected to increase the level of awareness of the topic of mental health and psychological support for young people. 

As a tool to implement the National Youth Strategy (2021-2030), including the strategic objective of on young people mental health, the Ministry of Youth and Sports implements a National Youth Program (2021-2025) (Национална програма за младежта (2021-2025)) by funding youth-related projects. One of the key areas of intervention of this program is the promotion of healthy lifestyle and environmental-friendly lifestyle, including mental health as well.