At the recent International Association for Youth Mental Health (IAYMH) conference in Copenhagen, Denmark, Orygen Global featured its core activities in a variety of manners. Our three pillars of work - System Development / Advocacy / Research - were on display and topics of discussion throughout the three-day event. And of course, our principle of youth engagement resonated strongly throughout this programming.
With respect to System Development, Orygen Global has partnered with UNICEF-Serbia and Serbian young people to develop a program for non-specialists to deliver basic interventions for young people experiencing mental ill-health. Five young people from Serbia attended the IAYMH conference, connecting with other youth and senior experts from around the world to share challenges unique to Serbia and learn about activities in other locales. These learnings are informing youth engagement as part of our partnership with UNICEF-Serbia, co-designed and co-led by some of these same young people.
Advocacy was featured across sessions, from the pre-conference workshops to oral presentations, table-tops, and plenary sessions. Three of Orygen Global's Youth Mental Health Advocacy Fellows, Judah Wambui (Kenya), Tukiya Kanguya (Zambia) and Jess Stubbing (New Zealand), presented on their Fellowship experience, noting the combination of skills learned and community built as strengths of the programme. They all also lamented the challenges of hosting an in-person conference in a high-income setting with immigration policies that make it challenging for more delegates from LMICs to attend.
IAYMH and Orygen use research as the foundation for their work. Speakers emphasised the importance of building on existing research and translating what has been learnt into practice. Too often, research is underutilised due to the challenges of its implementation in complex mental health and societal systems. Orygen Global is working to translate the knowledge we have gained from research into actionable interventions that will lead to better outcomes for young people. Key to this approach is including knowledge translation as a core component of our work with UNICEF-Serbia.
Overall, the conference was a wonderful success for the Orygen Global team! Our most visible presenters were young people, including team members and founders of our Advocacy Fellowship, Nataya Branjerdporn and Maddi O'Gradey-Lee. We were thrilled to have so many young people key to the success of the conference, with 12 in total contributing, in both speaker and facilitator roles.
We are happy to look back on a successful IAYMH22 and we look forward to the next iteration in Vancouver in 2024!