RISE TOGETHER (Youth Forum) – Europe and Middle East

On March 6th, 2021, IAYSP hosted the first forum under the title: “Surviving the Pandemic and Staying Sane.” It addresses the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) number 3 and 4.

The broad range of panelists meant that we could evaluate the issue of mental health from a very well-rounded perspective. Each speaker gave a short introduction to their field before going into a discussion panel and finally answering some questions from the participants.

The topics discussed included how to destigmatize mental health issues and what that means for different countries around Europe. Mrs. Winter explained, for example, that receiving a diagnosis and professional help from a psychologist in Germany can take up to five years. Mrs. Juhasz further explained that it is better to focus on preventative mental self-care instead of waiting for a diagnosis. Something especially topical given that during the pandemic, getting professional help can seem harder than ever.

We discussed some of the practical tools we can use, such as breathwork or meditation. The consensus was that we should place greater emphasis on the concept of “mental fitness” rather than “mental illness.” In this way, we shift our mentality from something taboo to something that applies to everyone. Dr. Esanu suggested the concept of a “mental diet,” in which we consider what kind of stresses we put on our brains and whether we are healthily balancing our mental activity.

Dr. Santini introduced the acronym ABC, act, belong, and commit. The three key staples of good mental health. The principle behind this is that if you are actively involved in a community working towards something meaningful to you, then that can keep you grounded, no matter how big or small.