At Ananda Gaorii Ashram, Farm, and Learning Center, we hosted the 10-day training course, “A Mental Health Toolkit for Youth Workers,” from October 6 to 15. Organized by the Erasmus+ program, this transformative experience, facilitated by psychotherapists and mental health experts Emilia and Matej and by our meditation expert Dada Krsnasevananda, aimed to equip youth workers from various countries with practical tools and insights to address mental health challenges among today’s youth.
The comprehensive program aligned with several key objectives:
- Practical Training for Mental Health Crisis: The primary goal was to address the youth mental health crisis by providing practical training introducing tools from mental health first aid, cognitive behavioral therapy, yoga, meditation, mindfulness, and positive social engagement. Participants learned strategies applicable to mental health challenges such as anxiety, depression, addiction, and suicidal thinking, enhancing their capacity to support their target groups.
- Strengthening Cooperation: The training sought to strengthen cooperation among the partners involved in the field of youth mental health. Emilia and Matej, as psychotherapists, played a crucial role in guiding participants through activities designed to foster collaboration and shared learning.
- Expanding Cooperation Networks: A secondary objective was to lay the foundation for expanding cooperation networks. The diverse group of participants from different countries facilitated cross-cultural exchange, contributing to a broader understanding of youth mental health challenges.
- Promoting Awareness and Action: The program aimed to promote greater awareness and understanding of the youth mental health crisis, with the ultimate goal of catalyzing increased action from governmental and civic organizations. Emilia and Matej’s expertise added depth to discussions on current mental health issues and potential interventions.
- Accessibility for Participants with Fewer Opportunities: A critical aspect of the training was to increase accessibility for participants with fewer opportunities, particularly those facing mental health challenges. The inclusive nature of the program, combined with the supportive environment created by Emilia and Matej, fostered a space where all participants felt valued and included.
The participants, hailing from diverse provinces, gathered for an introduction to the program. The serene surroundings of the Ashram set the stage for a transformative experience focused on mental well-being.
The program began with icebreakers and group dynamics, fostering a sense of connection among participants. Small groups were formed, emphasizing evaluation and self-awareness. An exploration of the current state of European youth provided a platform for cultural exchange, challenging stereotypes during the engaging Culture Night.
The core of the program delved into mental health understanding, covering topics from stress and attachment theory to the identification and support for mental health disorders. Resilience-building strategies, including Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) basics, were explored through various activities such as yoga routines, calming poses, and activating possibilities.
Participants engaged in activities designed to foster resilience based on mindfulness, compassion, acceptance, and bodywork. The day included sessions on understanding emotions and exploring the mind-body connection through practices like TRE (Tension and Trauma Releasing Exercises) and breathing exercises.
A refreshing forest trip allowed participants to connect with nature, practice mindfulness, and unwind. The program delved into gender-specific yoga routines, exploring ecological self-awareness and the deeper purpose in life. The day concluded with deep relaxation and self-massage, reinforcing the importance of holistic well-being.
The final days included case-solving exercises, encouraging participants to apply their newfound knowledge in practical scenarios. Discussions on creating safe spaces, working with different age groups.
The participant’s feedback reflected a unique journey of self-discovery and professional growth. The setting in the ecological village provided an inspiring backdrop. Group activities, forest trips, and engaging presentations facilitated cultural exchange and lasting friendships among the participants.
The training course not only equipped youth workers with a comprehensive mental health toolkit but also created a space for self-reflection and connection. The transformative experience left participants ready to navigate the challenges of today’s world with resilience, compassion, and a deeper understanding of mental well-being.
Multi-cultural night: Traditional Ukranian Song