UN Albania supports young people to get organized and tackle the stigma around mental health
30 June 2022
- Covid-19 Response
“Let’s talk about mental health” is a 2-month-long series of meetings with youth in 6 different cities in Albania to promote the importance that speaking out and reaching out for help has for youth dealing with mental health issues – especially related to the current Covid-19 pandemic. This is a joint effort of Albanian Youth Delegates to the UN supported by WHO and UNICEF in Albania under the coordination of the UN Resident Coordinator Office.
Initiated by Ania Sauku and Diogjen Kolici (the current Albanian Youth Delegates to the UN), it started with a workshop on how to talk about mental health and youth which took place on May 4th at the premises of UNICEF in Albania’s offices as a full-day activity. The Workshop was led by two experts on mental health - Neli Demi and Sonila Mecaj and was attended by the Albanian UN Youth Delegates UN Youth Advisory Group, representatives from UNICEF and the UN Association Albania who have supported the project.
During the workshop, the experts shared their suggestions and expertise on the topic and together with the young participants decided on the methodology of the focus groups, the cities where such meetings would take place as well as the content of a dedicated U-Report Survey.
Six meetings followed in the cities of Tirana, Durres, Kukes, Divjake, Librazhd and Klos where a total amount 88 young people were reached.
These meetings were designed in the form of focus groups with members of high schools’ study councils. During the focus groups, the youth delegates along with the mental health expert moderated and facilitated the exercises that were planned to ease the discussions and make it easier for the participants to express themselves. Each focus group lasted for approximately 4 hours.
At the end of each meeting, the Youth Delegates emphasized the main "message" of these meetings: Talking openly about our feelings, emotions, and thoughts, whatever they may be, is one of the simplest tools that anyone can use to prevent problems of mental health; Talk, help others, and listen to them without prejudice. Furthermore, the U-Report Survey was completed by 334 users. Around 600 brochures containing information prepared by the mental health expert were handed over to the participants. The brochures also contain a QR code which redirects to its online version.
The active participation of adolescents in these meetings, the willingness to share their personal experiences, and the questions raised by them during the discussions proved how necessary and appropriate such an initiative was. The project gained the attention of the Ministry for Health and Social Protection which will host a closing event on 13 July to further show support for this cause.