Mind the Gap – #mentalreport

Read EYMH Activist Carmen’s blog on her time as a participant at our collaborative study week ‘Mind the Gap’ 17th – 22nd June with European Network for Independent Living (ENIL) and Council of Europe (CoE). She spent the week participating with young people from across Europe discussing mental health as a disability, read on…

All the participants at the #MindTheGap study session are already back to their homes and I was very lucky to be one of them!

I kept promising Nick to send him videos along the week but, to be honest, the study session has required 100% of our time, strength and focus. It has been super intense, specially regarding emotions and feelings. We worked out our mind during the whole week! 

Too much to report on! Let me start with sharing the programme of the week in the following picture…

What a program!

After some team building activities and relaxed chats on Monday, the second day was lead by Hugo, EYMH volunteer trainer, who did a great job to make us all feel comfortable and engaged. These discussions were a strong kick off of the week, sharing our perceptions and personal experiences about mental health. For my peers and me it was very moving to see how people are willing to share their opinions, feelings and experiences, which is the strongest way to break stigmas and taboos. 

We had time to discuss about the medical and the social models of disability, analysing how both work and how the social model is the one to make society inclusive for all, highlighting that the person with disability is not the problem, but the barriers in society are and that those are the ones that need to be changed. How that change of model has improved the well-being of persons with disabilities was a question that brought personal experiences to the table!

In the middle of the week, on Wednesday, we welcomed an incredible speaker: Jolijn Santegoeds, activist and advocate for the well-being and rights of (ex)users and survivors of psychiatry. Her personal experience in different psychiatry centres, Jolijn is now the Co chair of World Network of Users and Survivors of Psychiatry, (WNUSP), Board member of European Network of (Ex-) Users and Survivors of Psychiatry (ENUSP)  and Board member of the European Disability Forum (EDF), among other things! I strongly recommend you to follow her on social media and keep an eye on her activism, she does an incredible job!

You can also find here a short interview that the Council of Europe did to Jolijn in Strasbourg!

What else?! Well, we got the chance to hear from many other amazing people & topics such as:

  • The Council of Europe’s work on rights of persons with disability from Alfredo Ferrante, former Chairperson of the CAHDPH, who explain us about the inclusion of young people with disability in the ‘’Youth for Democracy’’ programme.
  • The same day, Dunja Mijatovic, Commissioner for Human Rights of the Council of Europe, showed us different activity reports about the projects developed in 2018.

For me, it was particularly interesting to know more about the activities on right to live in the community, including the need to close institutions and the right to an inclusive education (visits to Albania, Armenia, Romania), as well as issues concerning accessibility and inclusion in the labour market. As we know, all is connected to quality of life, which directly affects people’s well being and mental health. I should say that this talk with the Commissioner was better than expected, as she went beyond the usual empty talk that you get from high-level personalities so, thank you very much for your active listening and speaking, Dunja!

I cant finish this report without mentioning how useful was to learn about the European Youth Foundations and its different mechanisms of projects’ funding, that encouraged everyone to think on our potential projects on mental health!

Carmen with the amazing Agnes on last day!

For you all to understand what this week meant, I can honestly say that for me it will be the best week of 2019. I shared personal experiences with people I just met and I felt understood, I felt empathy in the environment, good energy and, mainly, super-advocates! I know this is not the end, we will keep in touch and, who knows, maybe they feel motivated to join Euro Youth Mental Health ☺

If you would like to become a Euro Youth Mental Health Activist, then please tell us more about yourself here and Co-Director Nick will be in touch 🙂

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