Mongolian Youth Volunteers bring positive change through Mental Health Campaign
UNICEF Mongolia organizes campaign to support mental health of youth volunteers and their peers.
After Mongolia closed all schools and kindergartens in response to COVID-19, studying virtually from home in the long term has been making many youth more stressed and worried about their learning. Adolescents and youth also worry about their relationships and keeping up with their peers and friends. According to a study commissioned by UNICEF Mongolia, more than half of children are having trouble adapting and one quarter reported experiencing loneliness. Indeed, fear, worry, and stress have increased significantly among children and youth during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Engaging youth around mental health can be a challenge as it’s not easy to recognize and speak out about mental health issues for many people. In response, UNICEF Mongolia organized a virtual campaign in partnership with our youth volunteers and with the Family, Child, and Youth Development Department (the Implementing Agency of the Governor of the Capital City Ulaanbaatar) named “from Awareness to Action; let’s keep our mind healthy!”. This campaign aimed to support the mental health of youth volunteers and their friends, peers, and family members.
Around 400 youth volunteers (93% female and 7% male) were activated through this online campaign. Psychologists and professionals provided training sessions on mental health and effective exercises to stay healthy for our youth volunteers. The role of youth volunteers was to create support groups among their communities and peers, provide information and knowledge on mental health to their support groups and practice the self-help techniques during the campaign. The support groups consisted of their peers, classmates, friends, and family members. Our volunteers directly reached 3488 people. They used accessible digital platforms and social media during the campaign so that youth volunteers were available to engage with their support groups from everywhere. The majority of our youth volunteers are from the capital city and the remaining volunteers were from 8 provinces of Mongolia.
The virtual campaign “From Awareness to Action: Let’s keep our mind healthy” took place over 10 days and saw youth volunteers transmit knowledge to their peers and communities, teaching groups about mental health and emotional well-being. The campaign opened spaces for youth volunteers to talk with their friends, communities, and loved ones, helping to promote healthy lifestyles and reduce their stress and anxiety.
G.Ulziisaikhan, one of the youth volunteers says, “I am studying at Mongolian National University of Medical Science as a doctor and I am doing volunteer work for the fourth year. It was an honor to be a volunteer for this mental health campaign organized by UNICEF Mongolia.
"Mental health is essential to our overall well-being and is as important as physical health. It was a great opportunity to learn a lot from professionals, my peers, and other volunteers during the training sessions and campaign. I contacted adolescents and created a support group, consists of adolescents. Creating a support group gave me a good chance to hear mental health problems of adolescents and we talked openly through our online meetings. With my support group members, we together held breathing exercises and artwork to reduce our stress. I worked hard during the campaign because this volunteer work connects with my further work areas. In my country, it is critical to consider the mental health issues of teenagers and youth," said G.Ulziisaikhan.
"I think this campaign was timely suited and added light to someone's days, helped many people to overcome their stress, depression, and various problems related to mental health as well as supported the campaign participants to understand the importance of having good mental health. I decided to continue working on this issue and learn more by myself, even after this campaign is over. On behalf of the many volunteers and youth who participated in this campaign, I would like to express my sincere gratitude to organizers of this campaign."