Last October 2018, Co-Director Nick Morgan attended the European Health Forum Gastein, in Gastein, Austria, having earned a scholarship as a Young Gasteiner. Nick was there for four days and tells us what it entailed and where, if anywhere, mental health was involved.
This blog is very delayed, i apologise for that, its been a hectic end of 2018. So this blog is going to be short and contain a lot of pictures to which i’ll talk about, as they say ‘a picture is worth 1000 words’….
Standard flight from Stansted, i was very excited if not a bit tired to going away again (as was at another event the last week). Airports are always interesting and voyeur places to be and it wasn’t any different at 6pm on a Monday evening, as was shown in the scared and surprised reaction of the stranger i asked to take this photo. My arrival to Austria, was followed by an hour drive in pitch black, into the mountains, at this point was pitch dark, but with fellow ‘Gasteiners’ started the ‘getting to know each other’ part straight away until everyone was slowly dropped off to their respective hotels….mine being the last and furthest away, clearly they’d heard about my love of having to get up 30 minutes earlier than everyone else. On arrival there was no one at the reception, so i ventured to the bar and found the owner (maybe) drinking with a friend at the bar, so in the constant search for cultural learning i joined them and we swapped stories, in broken English about he used to live in Brighton and work in a hotel there and how Brexit was a load of rubbish.
The next day was the first and we learnt of our tasks ahead, as well as given a sticker book to fill in by means of collecting stickers (i never did finish mine.
As well as getting to know the other 70ish Gasteiners throughout the day and night, we were also introduced to the beauty of Gastein by daylight, with their frozen mountain peaks and green surroundings, surely to be a stunning setting for the event ahead.
The next 3 days, we were split into Working Groups to do reports, videos and blogs on various workshops such as those above and below, including meeting with some massively influential people in the public health world. It was interesting for me as a youth worker primarily, to be mixing with the public health world, which seems like a quirky middle between clinical and social world.
The group i worked with were fantastic, and we covered quite alot in the 3 days.
As well as this there were various social/networking events in the evenings and through the day as a way of making contacts, which i did extensively, including singing in the Youth Gasteiners choir, on their Alpine night (can you tell which photo covers that? – pretty sure there was only 1 other male dressed in Alpine wear!).
Overall the event was one of great company, people who wanted to see fairer societies in an unfair world in health care. However, there was a definite lack of conversation in the realm of mental health, with suicide being one of the biggest killers of young people I was very surprised to see this and brought it up at every occasion I could, challenging people in high profile policy positions to think more broadly from the physical to the mental…of course we’ve offered our expertise to run a panel next year!
This was a once in a lifetime opportunity and I’m glad I went as it really helps you understand the concept of public health and the other ways in which our work can spread (we are currently in talks with European Public Health Forum for possible collaboration). We hope to send someone again in 2019 but will offer to those who maybe haven’t had that experience before, like another Expert MHer.