Knowledge and Insights from Youth: Open Space (August 2023)
On August 20th, 2023, AYF hosted its fifth Youth: Open Space and presented our two networks that triggered the discussion by sharing their experiences regarding mental health. They are Chu from Myanmar and Rhaka from Indonesia. Both of our networks have come from different backgrounds, Chu has a background as a Counselor and is also interested in Gender Equality issues and Rhaka is a freelance educator and also actively joins as a member of the Youth Network of Decent and Inclusive Workplace and Bestari Keswa Pati (community that focuses on mental health issue).
Challenges of Myanmar Youths to Seek Mental Health Support
Chu started the session, by shedding light on the sensitive issue of Mental Health in Myanmar, a topic often avoided due to the deep-seated societal stigmas attached to it. Youth in the country face a significant challenge in accessing mental health support, mainly due to the scarcity of resources like trained professionals, financial assistance, and supportive policies. These limitations have hindered the development of a robust mental health infrastructure.
The landscape, however, has begun to shift following the dual impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and the 2021 political coup. These events have propelled an increased awareness regarding mental health concerns. Individuals are gradually recognizing the importance of addressing not only their physical well-being but also their mental state.
Chu emphasized that the current generation of Myanmar youths holds the potential to catalyze a transformative shift for future generations. Their actions and attitudes can challenge and eventually dismantle the existing stigmas surrounding mental health. The aspiration is for a society where mental health professionals are readily available across all regions, and seeking support is viewed without shame or judgment. This vision underscores the significance of creating an environment where the pursuit of good mental health is embraced as an essential aspect of personal well-being.
It's important to acknowledge that there's a considerable journey ahead. Establishing comprehensive mental health policies, creating dedicated centers catering to the mental well-being of the youth, and integrating mental health education into mainstream curricula are pivotal steps that still need to be taken.
Self-advocacy of people with mental disabilities in Indonesia
Rhaka's story highlighted the challenges faced by newly diagnosed young individuals with mental disabilities, particularly in their journey towards social integration within educational and workplace settings. Beyond grappling with their own conditions, these individuals often encounter difficulties adapting to new social environments. The crucial aspect of seeking and receiving appropriate support is frequently overlooked in the context of mental disability care.
In the discussion, he also acknowledged the existence of disability centers within certain Indonesian universities that are designed to aid young people with mental disabilities in their academic pursuits. However, he also acknowledged that achieving the inclusive participation of