The Alumni Talk on Mental Health: We’re never alone!

Loneliness and bad mental health days are common for all of us, but not so commonly talked about, so we decided to do precisely that during our EYP Alumni Talk on Mental Health. On the 13th of April we invited Alumni and active members alike to talk honestly about the topic of well-being during this meaningful event.

We were joined by two EYP Alumnae, Isabel Cantalapiedra Pro (ES) and Malika Bouazzaoui (FR), as well as two external experts, Dr Charlie Easmon (UK) and Dr Amélie Wiedemann (DE). The event was moderated excellently by Jannis Kuhlencord (DE), himself also an EYP Alumnus. The panel put the spotlight on a variety of relevant perspectives, ranging from public health and occupational mental health concepts to findings from positive psychology and neuroscience.

Participants were encouraged not just to listen to interventions by these insightful speakers, but also to each other. Before the interactive portion where they could join the speakers in an interactive Q&A, attendees talked to each other in break-out rooms about the topic of the last meaningful conversation that they had had.

The break-out room chats prepared them to be more open and honest when posing questions to the speakers in the fishbowl, asking about methods to balance work and private life, how to actively look out for your team members’ well-being, and where to draw boundaries for yourself.

What did the attendees take from this event?

“Measure your day in how present you were, not in how productive you were. “Work-life” balance should be taken out of use, as it implies work should represent an equal part (50%) as everything else in your life. It’s not only about creating healthy habits and boundaries in your work, but also important that when you are in a position of leadership you create a culture that promotes self-care and does not glorify over-working to exhaustion.”

“I realised how important it is to take care of yourself and others – so many people suffer and especially in EYP, where we dedicate a lot of our time and energy and where work can become a big part of our days, we still need to seek happiness and well-being.”

“I think it was very empowering to talk about your mental health problems with strangers who kind of share the same values as you do, because often those who suffer from depression, anxiety or both don’t really have that many people to talk about it and they end up being in this vicious cycle together with their own thoughts. So I enjoyed talking with people who knew nothing about, it felt very empowering to talk about my problems and if other people would be up for it, I would love to do this systematically. I need this and I’m sure other people need it too, the pandemic has been very tough on everyone, especially those who live alone and as the community we need to support each other even if we’re thousands of kilometres away from each other.”

“Reassuring to hear others struggle with managing work stress and some helpful suggestions about how we can change culture in our own work.”

“My main takeaway from the event is to set boundaries surrounding work not only for others but also for myself in order to develop better working habits.”

It was incredible to see many attendees gathering and sharing their thoughts and feelings so openly. We want to thank everyone who joined for making it such a valuable experience.

Many young people are experiencing mental health challenges, such as depression and anxiety during the COVID-19 pandemic. In case you struggle with lockdown measures, loneliness or are feeling generally unwell, it is important so speak about it, and reach out to your network, friends, family and/or seek professional support.

If you want to know more about the EYP Alumni Talks or other Alumni activities, check out our Alumni page.