The AER Working Group on Mental Health organised its kick-off meeting on 27 October to define priorities and develop activities for the coming months.
In particular, the group decided to organise a workshop on mental health on the occasion of the AER Winter Dialogues in Sankt Pöllten (AT) (registrations until 15/11/2023).
Getting to know each other
The working group aims to be a space for targeted experience sharing, finding resources, and strategic intelligence, as well as developing joint activities. For this to be possible it is essential to get to know each other and hear why mental health is an important topic at the moment in different regions across Europe.
Politicians from Värmland (SE), and Jönköping (SE), a whole team of mental health professionals from the hospital in Alba (RO), the chief specialist of the medical aid organisation department of the Department of Health of the Odessa Military Administration, civil servants from Donegal (IE), Västra Götaland (SE), and Alba (RO) and Youth Regional Network representatives from Salaj (RO) and Tirana (AL), discussed priorities for their regions, why the topic is current now, what they hope to find in the collaboration with other regions. This allowed the group to zoom in and out on the different levels of intervention and policymaking, across wider Europe.
Defining priority areas for exchanges
Members of the group discussed what they hoped to find in this group, and what they could share. While circumstances vary greatly across regions, all participants shared the observation that there is an increase in the need for mental health support and care, in particular for young people.
The areas of cooperation on which the Working Group decided to focus are the following:
- Traumatic events
- Growing resilience
- Dealing with bullying & hate speech
Close collaboration with the YRN
When making the proposal for the setting up of a working group on mental health, Daniel Schützer, County Councilor in Värmland (SE) was adamant that the working group should collaborate with the AER Youth Regional Network.
The Youth Regional Network (YRN) is a cross-regional youth platform, promoting active youth participation at regional level since 2008. Composed of regional-level youth councils, parliaments and organisations in AER’s network and membership, it provides young people with an opportunity to express policy recommendations, foster debate and capacity-building, exchange good practices, reach out to decision-makers, and influence policies. The Youth Regional Network works on
- Youth Participation & Governance
- Mental Health & Wellbeing
- Gender Equality & Women Empowerment
Both YRN Vice-President Norbert Nagy (Salaj, RO) and the YRN Chair of the Thematic Committee on Gender Equality & Women Empowerment, Maylinda Bajrami (Tirana, AL) participated in this meeting of the Working Group on Mental Health. They shared why this mattered for them, for their regions and the topics that are of high importance to them.
About the Working Group on Mental Health
The Working Group on Mental Health is currently chaired by Daniel Schützer, Värmland (SE) for a period of 2 years.
The proposal to develop a working group on mental health was presented to the AER General Assembly in Barcelona, in June 2023 by Värmland (SE), with the support of Alba (RO), Arad (RO), Kharkiv (UA), Odesa (UA), Norrbotten(SE), and Vojvodina (RS). Since the General Assembly last June, several other regions including Nordland (NO), Västerbotten (SE), Västra-Götaland (SE) Brussels Capital (BE) have also expressed interest in joining the activities of the group.
- All AER regions are welcome to join the group, please fill in this form to become a member of the Working Group.
- To join the (in-person) workshop of the Working Group on Mental Health on 29 November in Lower Austria, please register to the AER Winter Dialogues
- For more information please contact AER Coordinator for Policy & Knowledge Transfer Johanna Pacevicius