Do We Think Globally While Talking About Mental Health?

“I think in the UK we have an access to GPs, people tend to go there first and we have the conversation about mental health, especially recently in the media and in the government,” says clinical psychologist Jane Gilbert. “And in some other countries which have a very limited budget they have very different priorities.”

Mental health in most communities is still treated as the elephant in the room. However, that might be the reason why nearly 100 young people involved in the Youth Decide project created by the Restless Development voted in a Facebook poll that mental health is the top issue that should be discussed during an upcoming panel.

Restless Development, is a youth-led development agency delivering programmes in communities worldwide. The main aim of the organisation is to encourage youth to spread awareness, discuss important issues, try to make a change and be active.

Mental Health, The World and You, a panel-styled event organised by Restless Development took place on Wednesday December 6th, at the Impact Hub Birmingham and brought up the importance of mental health awareness as a global issue. It consisted of TED-styled talks, group discussions and networking.

“I have a loving, supportive family and incredibly loyal friends yet I could not entertain the idea of speaking to anyone about my feeling of pain.” The event started with those words of Sangu Delle from the TED talk titled There’s No Shame in Taking Care of Your Mental Health. The video was used as a reference of what the event will bring and what issues would be discussed.

It followed with panel talks from Shuranjeet Takhar, the founder of the social media campaign, which looks to present the mental health experiences of Punjabi men, Kiran Manku, Research Fellow at the University of Oxford, Vaneza Lourenco, Restless Development Youth Decide volunteer and Jane Gilbert, Clinical Psychologist.

“I think the event was a fantastic start to a discussion on mental health both in local communities and in the global sense,” said Shuranjeet Takhar. “Just hearing people’s thoughts on how for example how do we get to people who are not on social media with regards to this sort of activism, or to people who don’t want to openly speak about mental health, how are we going to encourage them to be a part of this conversation.”

The event leaned towards an open discussion about how differently mental health is perceived in different cultures and communities. A lot of members of public were constantly reminding that we can’t generalise the stigma around mental health and blame anyone in particular for why it exists. It also brought up the subject of the importance of easier accessibility of mental health education for parents and children to help better understand emotional issues and prevent the stigma.

“Although there’s many statistics about small number of psychiatrists in many African countries, but when you think about the budget then obviously if people haven’t got enough housing, they don’t have education, they don’t have basic needs then I think it’s very difficult for the government in those circumstances to prioritise mental health,” said Jane Gilbert.

The event turned up to be successful leaving a lot of topics and angles related to mental health to think about and discuss.

“I love the fact that when I said “we are running out of time but there’s group conversation if anyone is interested” and I thought people are going to leave, as you know sometimes it happens but people are still here, talking about mental health, sharing stories,” said Rhianna Ilube, event organiser.


Natalia Kaluza


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