On Friday, we explored in depth one of the flagship projects of the 5th Call for Proposals, the one put forward by the Global Health Center in Prishtina, a Center trying to create a network promoting mental health well-being in the Western Balkans Region.
Dr. Aliriza Arënliu, the founder of the Global Health Center, shared how the idea of creating a specialized network to support 24/7 mental health issues first came to him during the Covid-19 Pandemic. Now, thanks to the WBF-EU grant, he is endeavoring to expand the network on a large scale.
READ PART 1/ “Sometimes it is ok, not to be ok”. Discover “Talk with Me”, the flagship project supporting mental health well-being in the Region
In this second part of the in-depth interview, we go to meet the partners behind the successful Regional Network of mental health, Ms Tana Aliaj from the RICP Albania and Erduan Kllobuçista, of Synapsis World in Skopje.
Tomorrow, part 3, we go and hang out with the volunteers that run the chat service addressing psychological emergences 24/7.
WBF – What is your organization’s experience, and what has been your involvement in this project?
Tana Aliaj, RICP Albania – RICP is an organization with a focus on youth and addressing sensitive issues related to them. Currently, mental health is undoubtedly one of the main issues that need advocacy for various reasons, including developmental age, post-Covid-19 consequences, as well as personal and familial challenges. RICP has been involved in this project as a partner organization, responsible for implementing and monitoring activities in the region of Albania.
Erduan Kllobuçista, Synapsis World – Synapsis World organization has been a partner in this project, bringing volunteers from North Macedonia. It has been a beautiful professional experience to get to know closely the work and diverse experiences of colleagues working in Albania and Kosovo. This project has been a beautiful interconnection between these regional states.
WBF – What are the main challenges you have faced?
Ms Aliaj – The main challenges have been related to breaking the stigma surrounding the importance individuals should place on mental health. However, through webinars, expert involvement, sharing success stories, psychoeducational videos, visibility, and professionalism exhibited by volunteers during online chats, we have been able to convey our message. Additionally, securing funding for the initiative is an ongoing challenge we may face.
Mr Kllobuçishta – Anonymity has been a significant challenge. Most people hesitate initially to express themselves through a platform until they build trust that this is a program that offers support to all those in need.
What do you value most about ” Talk to Me” project?
Ms Aliaj: The “Talk to Me” project is essential, with numerous impactful and creative strategies. RICP has appreciated the initiative for the following aspects:
Addressing mental health issues
Creating a multifunctional platform with a focus on mental health, where individuals can access information, participate in webinars, learn more about themselves and others through psychoeducational videos, and receive psychological support.
The “Talk to Me” project is a pioneering and important initiative that, through the shendetimendor.org platform, provides online psychological services, which are not only current but also the future of mental health support. This is an added value to the project that should be supported further, where, in addition to the online chat, volunteers can provide psychological support through phone lines or video calls. This would be a novelty in the three countries where the project is implemented, where mental health-focused initiatives need to be unified and offer diverse services.
The “Talk to Me” project has engaged over 60 volunteers from three countries, serving as an initiative that promotes networking in the field of mental health.
Mental health should not be considered a luxury but rather a priority. To all individuals who suffer in silence, lacking the strength to face mental health challenges, we urge them to understand that they are not alone and that there are people ready to assist them on their path to healingTana Aliaj
Mr Kllobuçishta – Accessibility. All those in need of counselling can access it without any cost. Additionally, young professionals in the field of psychology have the opportunity to start their careers with this platform.
I would say that there is no shame in showing vulnerability in life. You are weak when you don’t make any decision to bring change within yourself. You must acknowledge that something is not right, something is not working, and that is half the solution to the problem. Your voice needs to be heard, and who could do it better than the “Talk to Me” platform?!Erduan Kllobuçishta
WBF – Do you think of expanding further collaboration, deepening this experience at a regional level?
Ms Aliaj – Currently, representatives of the organizations and involved volunteers continue to hold discussions with the aim of expanding collaboration and planning further activities.
Mr Kllobuçishta – I believe so. It is a project worth it, and the first opportunities that arise will continue this regional collaboration.
WBF – What is your feedback on working with the lead applicant and WBF? How valuable is a regional organization like WBF in your judgment?
Ms Aliaj – RICP highly values the collaboration with the lead and partner organizations. Thanks to our joint commitment, we have been able not only to successfully carry out activities but also to surpass planned results. Additionally, the support, flexibility, and expertise offered by WBF have been instrumental throughout all implementation phases. Guidelines and the participation of WBF representatives in project activities have facilitated the sharing of ideas and reflections for future activities or plans.
Mr Kllobuçishta – Working with the lead applicant is worthwhile. Qualified professionals with significant experience in counselling make it easy to understand and collaborate
WBF – Do you have a message for all the people reading this interview, as well as for those who unfortunately still consider seeking mental health assistance stigmatizing in our region?
Ms Aliaj – Mental health should not be considered a luxury but rather a priority. To all individuals who suffer in silence, lacking the strength to face mental health challenges, we urge them to understand that they are not alone and that there are people ready to assist them on their path to healing! We invite everyone to visit the shendetimendor.org platform and become familiar with all the services offered within the “Talk to Me” project.
Mr Kllobuçishta – I would say that there is no shame in showing vulnerability in life. You are weak when you don’t make any decision to bring change within yourself. You must acknowledge that something is not right, something is not working, and that is half the solution to the problem. Your voice needs to be heard, and who could do it better than the “Talk to Me” platform?!