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Deconstructing the Stigma Around Mental Health

Thanks to the organization Youthfully Yours we participated in a one-week training course on the topic of deconstructing stigma around mental health, which took place at the end of November in Portugal. As a Slovak team we took various journeys (by plane and car to Braga, by trains all the way from Bratislava to Porto), which eventually intersected in our room in the town of Guimarães. Later that day, the organizers surprised us with a rich dinner.

On our first day we started to explore the city Guimarães, which is the first coronation city of Portugal and part of the UNESCO heritage. We were lucky enough to see university matriculations, which take place practically every week, so we caught a glimpse of them at the University of Porto as well. The program consisted of a presentation by the organizers and participatory sessions where we discussed mental illnesses or built mascots for our project.

During our week in Portugal, we also visited the Laboratory of Experimental Psychology in Porto and found out that each of us is able to separate our real perception from the virtual when we jumped from a bridge above an animated skyscraper. After this experience, we had time to explore Ribeira in Porto.

On the last day, the organizers took us along a winding road to a beautiful hotel, where we concluded our project with lectures on happiness and the activities of the Ordem dos Psicólogicos. In addition, we got the chance to enjoy Portuguese gastronomy and local architecture. It was interesting to hear how different people have different approach and how they strive to deconstruct the stigma of mental illness, whether as ADHD mentors in Corfu or as operators of the Lithuanian crisis line. This project was full of inspiring people, who try their best to change the current situation on societal attitudes towards people with mental health issues, so we could take an example and implement that in our home countries.

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