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Work Plan 2022: The Politics of Mental Health

 

The Politics of Mental Health

 

The WHO constitution states that “health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity”, but according to a 2017 UN report nowhere in the world does mental health enjoy parity with physical health in budgeting, education or practice. Today, 17% of young people are probably affected by anxiety and depression, and this becomes twice as likely among those whose education or work was disrupted by the pandemic. 

 

FYEG successfully lobbied for free mental health care to be included in the COVID recovery plan of Green Parties in Europe. To act upon this, we need to better understand the mental health condition of young people across Europe, especially activists and oppressed people who are at the center of the fight for demanding better living conditions and ensuring a decent future for young people.

 

With an aim to understand the causes and consequences of worsening mental health among young people and ensure the youth’s role in building and sharing the solutions needed to address it, with this work plan we want to:

 

1. Explore the systemic factors causing worsening mental health among young people, with a focus on reduced access to social rights (work, housing, healthy environment) and its intersectional impacts on mental health (2a, 2e)

2. Identify manifestations of mental health problems among activists and oppressed people from minority or vulnerable groups, and understand its correlation to reduced freedom of expression and government suppression techniques (1a, 1f)

3. Equip young people with tools and methods to prevent and address mental health problems at the individual level and in their groups, as well as to create concrete change in national legislation (2e)

4. Build upon FYEG’s resolution on prioritising mental health and engage our network in implementing and sharing the internal and external solutions identified during this and previous work plans (2e)

 


 

Project background

 

The poor access to health, decent work, housing, education and a healthy environment of young people was subject of FYEG’s AWPs on social rights in 2019 and on just transition in 2020. The pandemic exacerbated this reality. 

 

Young people also struggle to take part in democratic processes, not only because their participation has moved online but due to limitations on their freedom of association. 

 

Meanwhile, in activist spaces the topic of mental health is being centered, with terms such as burnout, compassion fatigue, anxiety, climate grief, and self-care becoming of daily interest among groups that wish to invest in the long-term resiliency of their memberships.

 


 

Project activities

 

(1) Seminar: Mental Health is Political

 

Through the seminar “Mental Health is Political” we want to identify the political causes and advocate for the political solutions needed to prevent and address the intersectional impacts on mental health among youth.

 

The aim of this activity is for young people to learn about the socio-economic inequalities they face and the intersectional impacts on their mental health and to be empowered to engage others in sharing this vision. This aim will be reached through the following objectives:

 

1. Analyse the systemic issues causing worsened mental health among young people today, with a focus on people facing various types of discrimination (LGBTQIA+ and women*, BIPoC, people with disabilities), and how they have been exacerbated during the years of pandemic

2. Explore and debate the social and economic solutions needed to improve young people’s mental condition

3. Develop the communications skills to share these solutions through building a common narrative on the need for action for improved mental health, in the format of a podcast series

 

Dates: 20 - 24 April

Duration: 5 days

Location: TBC

Working language: English

CALL FOR PREP-TEAM (CLOSED)

 


 

(2) Summer camp: Mental Health of the oppressed and the activist

 

In this 6-day long summer camp gathering 56 young activists we will focus on how mental health problems peculiarly affect people who are oppressed and activists, by looking at cases of repressed freedom of expression, right to protest and access to information in Europe, all issues that affect the engagement of young people in civic processes. We will then create space to learn about methods to identify, prevent and address problems of mental health among young activists and people who face discrimination.

 

The aim of this activity is for young people to learn about the threats faced by youth organisations and grassroots in Europe and how they affect oppressed people, as well as engage in creating solutions. 

 

1. Learn about European cases of violation of the rights of expression, assembly and access to information and how they affect the mental health of oppressed people (i.e. LGBTQIA+, people with disabilities, people from discriminated against and minority groups etc.), activists and oppressed activists (e.g. Black Lives Matter, queer activists etc.)

2. Identify how mental health issues show up among activists and oppressed people today, distinguishing between mental health issues and mental illnesses, and sharing solutions at the individual and community level

3. Reach a wider number of youth through the preparation and dissemination of a training workshop template and resources on mental health 

Dates: 22 - 27 July

Duration: 6 working days

Location: TBD

Working language: English

 


 

(3) Mental Health in Progress LAB

 

Through this final activity we want to engage a wider audience with the topic of mental health among youth, presenting the results and solutions developed during the work plan. We will gather around 80 people in an event with elements of a seminar, training and public conference. We will invite representatives of youth international NGOs, party political youth organisations and movements to the open part of the event and discuss how to join forces in lobbying for better mental health at various levels and establish an international network of mental health supporters to work together in the future. 

 

The aim of this activity is for young people to learn about and debate a set of actionable pathways to address mental health in their organisations, movements and communities, as well as to address decision-makers with this vision. 

 

Objectives:

1. Create a platform through which to present and debate the “Mental Health In Progress” strategy among member and partner organisations and a wider network, and establish partnerships among them

2. Train young people on how to approach mental health internally within their member organisations, movements and groups, by delivering the “Mental Health Kick-off” training workshop created during the previous activity

 

3. Develop young people’s skills to lobby for improved legislation on mental health at local, national and international level

 

 


 

The project is supported by the European Youth Foundation of Council of Europe.