“Statistics tell us that two-thirds of young people would be willing to emigrate; that the total education costs of people who leave the region in one year vary from 840 million to 2.46 billion EUR; and that about one fifth are unemployed and nearly a quarter are neither in employment nor in education or training. But the comprehensive transformation of the region cannot take place without youth. If we risk wasting their potential, we are risking the engine of a sustainable regional future,” said Secretary-General of the Regional Cooperation Council (RCC) Majlinda Bregu at the closing of the Youth Lab on mental health today in Tirana.
“But figures are more than simple numbers. They are real-life, everyday experiences that young people face. Their frustrations and our inability to address them cripple the entire societies in our way forward. The only way to change this is by providing the young people with their rightful place in decision-making processes. In short – we can only work for youth if we work with youth,” added Bregu.
The event, organized by the RCC’s Western Balkans Youth Lab (WBYL) project, has gathered close to 50 youth representatives from the region, as well as policy-makers and representatives of the European Commission. Over the two days, the participants discussed the topics of mental health and brought out 13 regional recommendations envisaging how to raise mental health awareness, support measures and communicate the importance of the prevention of mental health of young people.
The recommendations were endorsed by all members of the Regional Pool of Experts.
“Depression, anxiety, behavior disorders affect more young people today than two years ago and we must not lose sight of the fact that the period from age 12 to 25 remains a critical time of brain development and maturation. Social media keeps promoting the strong, beautiful, rich, even bully types, but does not provide coping mechanisms, interpersonal skills or ‘psychological distancing’ (that is, encouraging a person to adopt an objective perspective on negative thoughts and feelings).
Both, the experiences our young people face now, and the support they receive from us in coping with and navigating these challenges will have profound impacts on their abilities to be successful adults, parents, and citizens for years to come,” concluded Bregu