“Thank you for giving us the opportunity to speak about the things important to us and to feel that someone has heard us.”
(Participant in focus group about mental health in Croatia, 16 years old)
The World Health Organization defines good mental health as “a state of well-being in which we realize our potential, we can cope with the usual stress of life, we can work productively and we are able to contribute to the community” (WHO:2001).
However, many of our life circumstances have fundamentally changed over the past few years, and we are facing not only more uncertainty, but also increased and more visible mental health problems, both adults and children and young people.
Although we feel overwhelmed, often powerless and fearful, what we all have is the ability to develop resilience and develop new skills to face the problems and challenges in life. The important role here all educators and youth workers have, who are responsible for supporting children and young people in times of crisis and ensuring conditions that they themselves strengthen their potential, socio-emotional competences, interpersonal relationships and meaningful participation.
In “Let’s Talk” project, we are dealing with questions: Do we think of young people as a homogeneous group with the same needs or do we see their diversity? Do we “tailor” our support based on our ideas about what is good for young people or we can move away from our own views and take into account their reflections, desires and goals? What do young people really need today; how familiar we are with the needs of young men, women and others that do not identify themselves in binary gender categories? And what about gender roles that we adopt during socialization, how these categories affect our mental health? How to approach young people in all their diversity when addressing mental health needs?
Some of the questions we discussed with youth workers and mental health experts as well as with young people during the field research in Croatia, Greece, Italy and Serbia. Altogether, we made 45 interweaves with youth workers and experts and eight focus groups with young people. In addition to interviewing young people and experts, we also explored how much different policies that affect youth recognize and support the mental health of young people in all their diversity. Conclusions and recommendations for each country can be found here, and soon we will publish a comparative report with recommendations on a European Level.
Let’s use the World Mental Health Day to talk about these topics and to hear what young people have to say about this. We encourage all educators and youth workers in different contexts to use the whole week to open up topics with young people that are important to them and provide a safe space where they can talk about themselves and share their experiences.
In the project “Let’s Talk”, we continue to develop a programme and additional resources with a gender-sensitive approach that/which young people and youth workers will be able to use in their everyday work on mental health topics.
“Work of students from High School Gimnazija „Fran Galović“ Koprivnica”
About the photo: Same but different, students Bartol Kekez, Dubravka Težak, Ema Božek, Fran Domović, Hana Belobrk, Lara Vondraček, Leon Bedeković Arnaut, Patrik Ivačić, Gimnazija „Fran Galović“ Koprivnica, Paint the world 2018