Rise Together (Youth Forum) #Europe and Middle East

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

Having a broad range of panellists allowed for valuable and a well-rounded evaluation towards the issue of mental health. Each speaker gave a short introduction to their field before going into a discussion panel and finally answering participants’ questions.

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, receiving professional support is proving harder than ever.

We discussed some of the practical tools we can use, such as breathwork or meditation. The consensus was that greater emphasis be placed on the concept of “mental fitness” rather than “mental illness.” In this way, our mentality is shifted 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 are placed on our brains and whether we are healthily balancing our mental activities.

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, through this you can remain grounded, no matter how big or small.