(Photo: De Klein Leiden Consultant).
More than two hundred stakeholders gathered in the Marikirk area on Tuesday evening for a symposium on mental health. The student organization De Kleine Consultant (DKC) Leiden organized the seminar. The proceeds of the evening will go to the Mind Foundation.
Several speakers spoke about their experiences with being psychologically unwell and how you can deal with it. Conclusion: talk about it. The idea of organizing the seminar at DKC Leiden arose when they first tested how important mental health is and that this is not as straightforward as it seems.
Comedian Leiden Jochem Meijer opened the evening with a video message. Immediately explain how difficult it is to go somewhere with your mental problems: “If you have stomach pain, go to the doctor. But when you are not mentally well, it is difficult to seek help.”
The evening’s first speaker, experience expert Pleun Mathijsen, acknowledges this as well. As difficult as it may be, it’s important to be open about mental health, was the crux of her story. “Loneliness, shame, and isolation make you feel like you can’t talk about it. But openness creates connection and enlightened participation,” Mathiesen said, at which point the audience applauded in agreement.
During the symposium the intention was not only for the audience to listen, but also to have room for interaction. Presenter Luke Driessen spoke in the evening and asked questions to the audience.
When asked if the people in the room themselves sometimes have mental problems, almost everyone raises their hands. But only one person is brave enough to talk about it, too. This immediately places the finger in the painful area and shows how difficult it can be to start a conversation about mental health. While asking for help can actually be the key to recovery.
The second speaker, psychiatrist Dan Van Barr, spoke about the scientific context surrounding mental illness. Then the writer Sacha Verheg gave a light-hearted piece of music, in which a spoken word was played. Psychosocial therapist Inez Blankenstein spoke about counseling loved ones who are dealing with someone in the environment who suffers from depression.
Mariella Melisin from “Is Everything Alright?” The support line closed the evening with advice on how to lend a helping hand to someone who is unwell. Then had the opportunity to chat with each other and the Marekerk speakers while enjoying a drink.