This year’s World Mental Health Day, on 10th October, comes at a time when our daily lives have changed considerably as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The past months have brought many challenges for young people: restricted leisure opportunities; adapting to taking on line education or a new norm at school with little contact with teachers and friends; fearful of bringing COVID-19 home with them when going to work; and anxious about their futures.
The United Nations declares that 75% of the world’s major conflicts have a cultural dimension and insists that ‘bridging the gap between cultures is urgent and necessary for peace, stability and development’. Acknowledging cultural diversity and creating the opportunity to speak about it leads to dialogue. Intercultural dialogue is a process which involves an open and respectful exchange between individuals and groups with different cultural backgrounds. It helps to foster a reciprocal understanding of the attitudes, value systems, behaviours and points of view of those involved in the conversation.
It is also worth noting that:
- More than one in every five youths in Malta aged between 18 and 24 are at risk of depression, the third-highest rate in Europe.
- 150,000 people in Malta face mental health problems at some point in their lives, 75% experienced their first symptoms before the age of 25.
- The World Health Organization has estimated that over half of all cases of mental disorders would have begun before age 14, however, the majority of these remain untreated well into adulthood.
These present circumstances and the evidence in hand, encouraged Aġenzija Żgħażagħ to take up this initiative. Aġenzija Żgħażagħ plans to do its utmost to encourage young people to start talking about their mental health problems and generate a conversation around mental health to end mental health stigma and discrimination.
This campaign has been developed with the support of the Secretariat for Youth, Sports and Voluntary Organizations, the Commissioner for Mental Health and the involvement of young people through a focus group.
For more information about the campaign click here.