It was organised by Nils Fischer, Head of the Middle East Department. A total of twenty KAAD scholarship holders and four scholarship holders of Cusanuswerk took part in the event.
The seminar topic ‘Mental Health’ was discussed against the backdrop of the Corona Pandemic, which has posed challenges to societies worldwide at all levels – from the state to the individual. In addition to the immediate consequences associated with infection, protective measures also carry their own health consequences and risks: Reduced mobility and contact, experiences of loneliness and financial hardship can lead to mental health problems such as depression or obsessive-compulsive disorder. The consequences often depend on socio-cultural contexts and the economic situation of an individual.
Prof. Dr. Ulrike Kluge (Charité Berlin) introduced the topic with a lecture focusing on the intercultural aspects of mental health. She particularly emphasised that those affected not only need professional help, but also concrete spaces where they feel protected and can speak openly. This requires, above all, translation possibilities in the health care system, which are not sufficiently available at present. This leads to the fact that low-threshold help cannot be offered and those affected cannot be treated adequately. Julia Manek (medico international) worked with the participants on various “best practice” examples for strengthening mental health. She showed the variety of services that aid organisations in the global South develop and the outstanding importance of the associated social-culturally embedded services.
The seminar programme was complemented by a guided tour of Bonn with a broad psychological perspective on Ludwig van Beethoven and a visit to the PsychiatryMuseum “Crazy Times” at the LVR Clinic Bonn. There it became clear how much psychiatry has developed over the past 150 years and how the view of people with mental illness has changed.
The following methods and possibilities of organising help for mental health difficulties in the personal environment were discussed:
- Establishing shelters (so-called ‘safe spaces’) also in schools and at work
- Raising awareness of mental illness and destigmatising it
- Creating an atmosphere of listening, attention and consideration
- Encouraging people to pay attention to their own mental status
- Using different methods to counteract mental health problems, e. g. music, sports, walking
- Positive use of social media to reach out and help affected people
- Respect for social, cultural and religious differences
- Taking a holistic view of oneself and others with special consideration of one's own biography
In the seminar, both positive and negative pandemic experiences gave the opportunity to discuss the topic of ‘Mental Health’ with a view to the future. Since the participants came from many different regions and countries, as in all KAAD seminars, many social, cultural and religious differences could be shared, discussed, reflected and understood within the framework of this event.