The many member organisations that play a crucial role in the work of OBESSU attended a Mental Health convention in Rome from the 19th – 21st of November. The convention started with a discussun about everyone’s understanding on mental health, this was a very personal topic, as each individual was given the chance to express their own views and opinions. I feel this was a great way to kick off the convention, it made everybody feel like they had an impact straight away so they could all feel valued.

The next topic on the agenda was “What is happening in my country?” which was very interesting to say the least. Being able to hear about the mental health situation in so many countries really painted a bigger picture, in some cases very detailed. We suddenly realised that some countries had already began to tackle it head on, while some countries were still yet to take action. We then met in our reflection groups at the end of the day to give a confidential opinion on the agenda, running of the day, any recommendations that could be implemented, etc.

The next day we assessed the different areas of mental health, including the different types of mental health problems and what effect they have on an individual. This was very impactful as it really gave us an understanding of how broad the spectrum of effect is and how many different types of mental health problems exist today. We then began identifying solutions from the assessments we had made, and we realised that we are not experts on mental health, but attempting to get the cogs rolling in such a taboo subject and bring some normality to the very controversial topic that is mental health can only have a proactive impact.

Then the third day came and it was recommendations time! The topics that were voted for by the attendees of the convention were to try get psychologists in schools as residents, and to attend regular check ups with them to break down the stigma of mental health. The idea behind this was that everybody gets physical health check ups like dentists and physiotherapy, so why not hold mental health in the same regard? We also wanted gender and sex studies to be a part of the curriculum in all schools, to educate people on the many different genders that people identify as, as well as the consequences that may effect the mental health of an individual if these are not met. We finished the final day with feedback and reflections, both formally and informally, to officially close the event. These recommendations are now with the Board and under review, hopefully we will see them passed and implemented very soon.

Written by Jordan Layne