The transnational report “Policy Analysis and Recommendations on youth’s mental health and gender-sensitive needs” examines the effects of Covid-19 on children and young people, good practices, and policy recommendations.
Panic attacks, loneliness, agoraphobia, social phobia, depression, family problems, peer issues, and anxiety about academic achievements are the most commonly reported mental health problems that youth face, especially during and after the COVID-19 pandemic. At the same time, there is a necessity for a gender-sensitive approach among mental health professionals and professionals working with children and young people. These are among the main findings of a research conducted by KMOP – Social Action and Innovation Centre, the Forum for Freedom in Education (Croatia), the Centre for youth work (Serbia), and the Centre for Creative Development “Danilo Dolci” (Italy) – partners in the Erasmus+ project “Let’s Talk: Developing gender sensitive mental health program for young people”.
The transnational report titled “Policy Analysis and Recommendations on youth’s mental health and gender-sensitive needs” summarizes the key findings of the desk and field research that was conducted in Greece, Croatia, Serbia and Italy regarding the effects of Covid-19 on children and young people, good practices for the support of people and especially children and young people who seek professional – and gender-sensitive – help, existing policies, as well as policy recommendations.
According to the report, young people were generally to a great extent negatively emotionally, physically and mentally affected by the pandemic – confined to their homes and/or isolated from friends they were prevented from meeting their fundamental psychological needs. Despite the absence of total home confinement, not being able to attend school seems to be the factor that best predicts depressive symptoms.
The research results from all four countries showed a necessity for a gender-sensitive approach among mental health professionals and professionals working with children and young people. Even though some of the countries’ good practices refer to gender-based violence or/and the LGBTQI+ community, a holistic gender-sensitive approach is missing, especially when focusing on mental health.
The report also states that, although in all countries there is discrimination, stigma, prejudices about mental health in the societies, and a lack of knowledge and skills in the professional sections, at the same time there are number of good examples of good practices, which can be helpful for people and especially children and young people who seek professional – and gender-sensitive – help.
These good practices include campaigns in cooperation with strategic policies, NGOs, community centres, or online access to psychosocial support. Some examples are:
- Transcending Youth – Supporting Trans Youth. It is being implemented by Colour Youth –Athens LGBTQ Youth Community (Greece)
- Preventive programmes for students: organisation Status M – working on deconstructing toxic masculinity; association Zenska soba working on empowering women and raising awareness of gender-based violence; organisations raising awareness and helping young people struggling with eating disorders (e.g., Bea Centre) (Croatia)
- National Youth Council: consultative body with representatives of young people – creating a dialogue with the institutions relating to policies on youth and promotion of mental well-being (Italy)
- Sazvezde Podrske: a non-formal network of 14 organisations and institutions that provide psychological psychotherapy and emotional support for youth in the city of Novi Sad. It also includes vulnerable groups (LGBTQI+, young offenders, young people suffering from PLHIV, and MSM, youth at risk of suicide, young victims of trafficking, women with disabilities, and young people with experienced psychiatric hospitalisation, psychosocial difficulties, and experience of violence. Online and in-person services – counselling, therapy, legal support, and education. (Serbia).
Additionally, research findings showed that in all four countries one of the most important forms of good practices is the online one. During the last years and after the COVID-19 pandemic, many people seek help through online sources and chats, apps, and helplines. For example, Greece has the Covid helpline for psychosocial support 10306. It is run by the National Kapodistrian University of Athens (EKPA), in collaboration with the Ministry of Health and 40 mental health organisations and NGOs.
The transnational report is available HERE.
About the Let’s Talk project
Let’s Talk is a co-funded Erasmus+ project which puts together CSOs and youth organizations from Croatia, Italy, Serbia and Greece to strengthen the capacity of youth workers in supporting young people’s mental health with a focus on gender-sensitive approach to mental health issues. The project aims to strengthen youth work community to carry on projects in promoting and maintaining the mental health of young people inclusive of all genders and thus leading to an increase in quality, innovation and recognition of youth work as key stakeholders in supporting young people. You can find more information at https://letstalk-project.eu/.