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The theme of International Youth Day 2014 is “Youth and Mental Health”. Public Services International (PSI) takes this opportunity to call on young workers to get involved in the trade union movement and on trade unions to reach out to youth.

PSI General Secretary Rosa Pavanelli says: “The views, ideas and participation of young people are indispensable for meeting the most pressing challenges of today’s globalised world: precarious work, rising unemployment and increasing inequality. The insecurities faced by young workers need to be addressed as a matter of priority; otherwise they cannot develop their professional and personal lives. Discrimination at work against young people is often multiple, based on age, sexual orientation, gender or migration status, leading to stressful employment and living conditions that can endanger their mental health.

Young people also suffer from mental health issues due to conflicts and wars, as many ongoing conflicts are in countries with a large youth population. Many of them leave their country for labour migration or to seek asylum. Some young people may be victims of human trafficking.”

Youth unemployment affects up to 50% of young workers and is the main cause of social exclusion. Many young people agree to precarious and unfair working conditions rather than staying indefinitely unemployed, with long term consequences on their income. Trade unions have an important role to play to make sure this increased competition on the labour market does not undermine workers’ rights and ultimately lead to the dismantlement of acquired rights.

At the same time, public services are being cut all over the world and health services are becoming less accessible for young workers. The global trend to introduce selective cash transfers for social services in combination with privatization, instead of the provision of universally accessible quality public services, contributes to a further deterioration of social cohesion.

Young workers with special needs are also struck by the shift from solidarity-based insurance schemes to individualized payment schemes, reductions in social benefits and cuts in social services. Youth with mental health conditions often experience stigma and discrimination, which in turn can lead to exclusion and/or discourage people from seeking help for fear of being negatively ‘labelled’. PSI promotes a multi-dimensional approach to addressing the challenges faced by young people with mental health issues, including tackling stigma and promoting social inclusion to enable all young people to achieve their aspirations and goals.

PSI calls on all its affiliates to stand up for the rights of young workers! We cannot accept a future with worsening working and living conditions. We want inclusive and equitable societies that offer opportunities for all! Mental health matters!

Join the campaign #mentalhealthmatters #PSI4Youth
As young workers, we often undergo heavy pressure due to the numerous threats that jeopardize our future. We all have to find ways to relieve the tension in order to preserve our mental health. PSI Young Workers have decided to celebrate International Youth Day by sharing how we get rid of stress. You can help commemorate IYD along with all PSI Young Workers with the simple click of a button!

Join our online campaign running from 12 August 2014 to 12 September:

Join us on Twitter, Facebook and/or Instagram and send a photo or a statement with the UN hashtag #mentalhealthmatters and the PSI hashtag #PSI4Youth about what you usually do to get rid of stress and/or stand with people with mental illnesses (at the workplace and through art, sport, entertainment, hobbies, charity work…). PSI will gather and summarise all the statements into a Young Workers’ leaflet to help spread the word about how to preserve one’s mental health and reduce the stigma surrounding youth with mental health conditions.

Organise an event or activity

One visible and interactive way to commemorate International Youth Day is by organising an event or activity in your workplace or community. Whether it’s five or 500 people, you can help celebrate the Day. Work with your union to brainstorm about the type of event you want: seminars, lectures, debates or round table discussions to promote intergenerational understanding and partnerships on the issue of how to overcome stigma surrounding youth with mental health conditions.

Be an advocate

Another great way of commemorating International Youth Day and of helping bring about positive change is to be an advocate on the issue: speak out and take action to influence positive change. Some questions you could ask: Why do we need to talk more about youth and mental health? Who is directly and indirectly affected? How is this relevant to our community? What can we do to reduce stigma surrounding youth with mental health conditions?

Spread the word

Not everyone knows a young person who is experiencing a mental health condition, nor do they know why it’s such an important issue for discussion, awareness-raising and reducing stigma. Events and campaigns can be great ways of increasing knowledge and awareness of the issue, but sometimes, just having a discussion or informal chat with your union members, friends, peers and family can be a simple yet powerful way to have an impact.

PSI resources

PSI website: http://www.world-psi.org/en/issue/young-workers
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/PSI4Youth
Twitter: https://twitter.com/PSI4Youth

Please email PSIWebUpdates@world-psi.org if your union is planning any special events to mark the International Youth Day on 12 August this year, so we can promote your news and photos.