Six former journalism students, in collaboration with three psychologists and six young adults between the ages of 20 and 25, have created the Moonwalkers podcast, where the mental well-being of young people is paramount. The six-part series discusses topics such as identity, social media and loneliness, with the goal of taking mental health off the taboo and creating a recognizable image for all young people.
Sonia de Bock
Society can be tough and demanding at times. That’s why sometimes we want to escape to the moon.” For example, host and director Joppe De Hert (22) begins the first episode of the podcast “Maanlopers.” Along with five former journalism students from the AP Hogeschool in Antwerp, three psychologists and six young adults, Joppe went to the Malle Training Center for the weekend to conduct six episodes, each discussing a topic around mental health: identity, bad days, pressure to perform, loneliness, social media and labels.
Although the first episode of the podcast was released last weekend, the five alumni have been working on the project since October 2020. “It took us about two months to find the right participants,” says Joby. “We wanted to talk to a diverse group of young people who each have their own story and who want to talk openly about their mental health. After a few initial discussions, we selected six young people to sign up for the weekend. It took a while to loosen up at first, but after half an hour the atmosphere was fine. So fine and we made it a great weekend. Even the psychologists were impressed with what we did there.”
identity and openness
In the first episode, which focuses on the topic of identity, solid topics are immediately discussed, such as self-image, gender diversity, and stereotypes. The six young people answer the questions with a game and try to find an answer together. Lotte Smits, 24, from Ecrin was there as a participant and looking back with relief. “I think it is important to tell my story to others, because there are likely to be young people, just like me, who are exhausted or suffer from anxiety disorders. It has been a great feeling to be in a safe environment where we can understand and speak openly about each other’s opinions.”
Elias Kossett (24) from Antwerp, currently an ambassador for Warmest Week, was also in attendance. “Thanks to the ‘Moonwalkers’ I learned a lot. I mainly listened to other young people’s testimonies, which broadened my view significantly and I dare to expose myself more.”
Psychiatrist Levin de Bakker (42), who has been active in youth care for five years, supervised the twelve young men with two colleagues. “I think ‘Moonwalkers’ has been the smoothest collaboration of my career,” she says. “Everyone had a lot of respect for each other, which is crucial to starting difficult conversations. As a psychiatrist, you often work with patients, but prevention is just as important. A podcast like this not only helps remove taboos, but also creates the possibility to get to know young people, so that mental health can be discussed more easily.”
Moonwalkers will release a weekly episode starting December 17 and can be heard on Spotify, iTunes, and Google Podcasts.