The study session “Mind the Gap” was organised by the Forum of European Muslim Youth and Students Organisations (FEMYSO) in cooperation with the Youth Department of the Directorate of Democratic Participation of the Council of Europe. The course took place in the European Youth Centre Budapest From 7 to 11 March 2022.
It brought together 28 participants from 15 countries to engage in the recovery of their communities and find ways to tackle mental health issues and taboos surrounding them through education on human and social rights. This was done through exploring mental health as a topic and how it exists in the everyday life of young people with minority background.
Taboos and misconceptions were further discussed, resulting in a reflection on ways in which mental health itself is somehow seen as a taboo in local communities, which prevents young people from learning about it and accessing support services. The participants furthermore explored how youth participation and activism is affected by mental health, such as stress and even burnout. It was concluded that also activists need to rest and to take care of their mental health, in order to continue their work.
Guest speaker Dr. Tarek Younis, clinical psychologist, delivered an online presentation on the connection between islamophobia and mental health, and Dr. Hooman Keshavarzi who is a practicing psychotherapist, further built on this in his presentation on decolonisation of mental health. Participants were also introduced to the Council of Europe Youth department campaign “Democracy here, democracy now”.
As an outcome of the study session, the group drafted a booklet for community work on mental health. It tackled, among other things, taboos and stigmas, islamophobia, sexism, and practices to create safe spaces.