The Wife of the President, Elizabeta Gjorgievska, addressed the national conference on mental health “Progress and Next Steps”, organized by the UNICEF Office in Skopje, with the aim of building a cross-sector coalition of partners working together and a whole community approach for improvement of the mental health of children and adolescents.
Praising the important study carried out by UNICEF in collaboration with the University Clinic of Psychiatry-Skopje, which gives a clearer picture of the situation in the country on this critical issue and guidelines on how to overcome these challenges, the Wife of the President said in her address that joint engagement of all relevant stakeholders, decision makers, health, education and social institutions is needed, as well as timely institutional response.
According to Ms. Gjorgievska, over the past few years, strides have been made to raise awareness of mental health and break down the associated stigma, with more and more people speaking out about their own struggles with mental health, the correlation between mental and physical health, but obviously we still have a lot of work to do, both as individuals and as a collective.
“The seriousness of the situation calls for a cross-sectoral response for consistent application of the national strategy, as the studies suggest: through more investment in mental health services and psychosocial support for all children, adolescents and families, support for families through programs that promote positive parenting and care, changing the narrative about the perception of mental health care”, Ms. Gjorgievska said.
The Wife of the President said that we need to break down stereotypes and create an environment in which mental health care will be generally accepted as it is not a taboo, adding that we need to make sure that our children, partners, colleagues, friends feel safe and supported when they talk about the problems they are going through, stretching them a hand to get out of the vortex of negative emotions and thoughts, often followed by anxiety or depression.
Patricia DiGiovanni, representative of UNICEF, delivered the opening address at the event, and the panel discussion “Mental health of children and adolescents – Need for inter-sectoral action” was addressed by the Minister of Health, Fatmir Mejiti, the Deputy Minister of Education and Science, Agim Nuhiu, the Deputy Minister of Labor and Social Policy, Enver Husein and the Director of the University Clinic for Psychiatry, Stojan Bajraktarov.
The panel discussion “Review of experiences and lessons learned in the field of mental health” was addressed by Margarita Spasenovska, WHO representative in North Macedonia, the “Nikola Karev” high school psychologist, Gordana Blazevska Spiridonova, and the clinical psychologist at the University Clinic for Psychiatry, Ivo Kunovski. The event presented the results of two studies on mental health for adolescents and their caregivers and women in the perinatal period, developed in partnership with the University Clinic of Psychiatry.