Inclusion drives action: How young people will change Global Mental Health

Inclusion drives action: How young people will change Global Mental Health

By Chantelle Booysen, Youth Leader for The Lancet Commission for Global Mental Health – South Africa

For the past 11 months I’ve been part of an amazing team of energetic young health leaders from around the world, leading an important conversation on mental health for young people.

The #mymindourhumanity campaign will turn 1 soon. Reflecting on the achievements of the past year, I think the most notable elements of the campaign are the willingness of the supporting institutions and organizations to:

  1. engage young people, placing us in the forefront to participate and lead this critical global campaign e
  2. invest in young people with their time and money, nurturing platforms for our team to authentically express ourselves, and
  3. educate young people, encouraging us to submerge ourselves in our leadership roles, learn about each others’ cultural insights and discover new ways of adding value to our communities.

The goals of #mymindourhumanity campaign 

The #mymindourhumanity campaign disseminated the findings of The Lancet Commission on Global Mental Health and Sustainable Development to young people worldwide, with three goals:

* To reduce stigma and promote a view of mental health as a fundamental part of being human.
* To integrate young people’s voices, values and experiences into public debate in global mental health.
* To educate young people and inspire them to take action to promote well being in their communities.

The #mymindourhumanity campaign aims to produce tangible outcomes that young people can benefit from and provide provide a vehicle for young people to create real action.


Policy Briefing, ‘Young people will transform Global Mental Health’

These three elements mentioned above encompass some of the key recommendations outlined by the recent Policy Briefing ‘Young people will transform Global Mental Health: A call to prioritize global action on mental health for young people’ that we created.

The policy document can be read using this link.

Young people under 25 make up to 42% of the worlds population and mental ill-health is currently the leading cause of disability in young people aged 10 to 24. Yet, are least likely to access mental health services due to under detection, lack of awareness and help-seeking, and insufficient priority in policy frameworks. The policy brief recommends ways to bridge the gap in mental health support and help young people to gain access to mental health services at policy level.

We published the policy brief in May in collaboration with the Mental Health Innovation Network to prioritize global action on mental health for young people.

I was given the opportunity to represent our young leaders team in Geneva, presenting the brief at the NCD Child Side Event “The Convention on the Rights of the Child & Sustainable Development Goals 3” organized by NCD Child, the American Academy of Pediatrics, International Pediatric Association and NCD Alliance, as part of the World Health Assembly (WHA72) 2019. The event saw presentations by some phenomenal young leaders sharing their experiences of kidney disease and transplants in Kenya, as well as pollution and tobacco use as major contributors to Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) in Indonesia.


Policy Recommendations 

The key recommendations the we created are:

  1. Ensure full and direct participation of young people, and people with lived experience, to ensure mental health policies are based on a rights-based approach.
  2. Increase funding for early intervention and prevention services to improve young people’s mental health.
  3. Strengthen mental health education in schools and universities, to promote mental health literacy, address stigma and improve help-seeking.

These recommendations are designed to empower young people to start conversations with their respective governments. It does not dictate the exact needs of every young person, every community or every country but it can be used as a guideline to develop workable, functional and implementable policies in respective regions.

The #MyMindOurHumanity campaign that is coordinated by the BeGOOD Team and NCD Child, and funded by the Wellcome Trust, and truly is a space created by some great leadership insight. The fruits of this campaign will last much longer, and will be rooted much deeper than the initial project timeline or the immediate social media exterior that everyone else sees.

If we can achieve all this in one year, what more can we do if we include, enable, support and fund all young people so they can take care of our collective futures?

About the Author

Chantelle Booysen, Youth Leader for The Lancet Commission for Global Mental Health – South Africa

Please follow @mymindourhumanity on Instagram and Facebook

Read policy brief written by My Mind Our Humanity via this link.



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