Hello dear AEGEEans! There are many amazing candidates for this Agora, making it a certainty that Novi-Sad will be something to remember! Getting to meet them has been a joy, and we can assure you that you will love them! Today, we present to you Carlos G. Gredilla, candidate for Mental Health Working Group Coordinator. Coming from a small coastal city in the North of Spain, Carlos is enthusiastic about mental health ーand it really shows. Having experience in the working group (Interim Coordinator), and a clear view of what he wants, he comes as a strong candidate for the position. Wanna get to know him? This article is for you!
Hey! Could you introduce yourself to your fellow AEGEEans?
Hey everyone! I’m Carlos, I’m 21 and I live in Gijón, a small coastal city in the North of Spain. When lockdown ended, I realised I wanted to do something different, and also start meeting new people. Having heard about AEGEE on several occasions, I thought it was a good opportunity to do both things, so I decided to join AEGEE-Oviedo in June 2021, and I’ve been a member since then.
Regarding the memories, what I cherish most is getting to work with people from all across Europe, and also building a friendship with them ㅡit is something that is invaluable for me (I have also had a wonderful time and met amazing people at local events with whom I keep in touch and that makes me really happy.) I can’t believe during Agora I will finally get to meet, offline, Mara and Lena (two of my teammates)!
For how long have you been a member of the mental health working group and why did you join? What makes mental health an important issue for you?
I became a member of the MHWG in September 2021 and a few months later I assumed the position of Interim Coordinator. I wanted to become active on the European level, and for me, mental health is a topic that still needs to be worked on a lot, and that I find really interesting, so that’s where my motivation came from mainly.
For many years, mental health was not even included in the definition of health, and it has been often disregarded as something trivial. Throughout the years, people have started opening their eyes to see how important it is to take care of their mental well-being, but there’s still a long way until it is fully recognised. For me, that is precisely why it is important to raise awareness about mental health within our society: because it is still not given, in many cases, the importance it deserves.
Why does AEGEE need to emphasise the issue of mental health more, and how can the working group contribute to that?
As AEGEE is formed by young people, having a Focus Area dedicated to mental health is a great opportunity to bring the topic closer to its members. By doing relatively simple tasks, such as sharing information, we are contributing to the destruction of the stigma that still surrounds mental health. In recent years, lots of members have manifested their struggle with mental health issues, and that is proof to why our work is important: because it is something that affects all of us.
Also, some statutory events such as Agora can be truly stressful, and we aim to identify the most common problems that arise during them in order to find helpful solutions. I like to think about the Working Group as a platform where everyone who is interested in learning or needs information can be educated on mental health so that they can improve their quality of life, and also assist those who surround them.
In your opinion, what could be improved in the working group? How do you think you can make such changes happen?
I believe our main flaw is communication with locals and other European Bodies in general. I’ve discussed this with the other Coordinators, and they seem to be having the same problem. I don’t think that it’s a matter of lack of interest in the activities we perform, but a matter of finding a way that allows us to reach more AEGEEans, and getting them involved in what we do ーwhich is the main purpose of our Working Group. Otherwise, the effort would be kind of worthless.
What is already working very well in the working group that you are planning to continue implementing in the future?
From my point of view, two things that are working really well, because they get members engaged, are:
- workshops on important topics related to mental health
- activities that include open discussions where people get to share their own opinions/experiences.
It has been really enriching to “force” people to stop for a moment and think about how present mental health is within their everyday lives. We plan on organising more activities of that nature, since, as I mentioned before, the main goal is to get AEGEEans involved in mental health.
Is there something you want to tell us? Now it’s your time to do so!
Yes! To conclude this interview, I would like to encourage everyone who’s reading this to take care of themselves. We are living truly difficult times with everything that’s going on in the world, and sometimes it is necessary to stop and ask yourself: “How am I doing?”. Having mental well-being is crucial to live a healthy life, so check on yourself from time to time, and if you need professional help, seek it without hesitation. As for the Working Group, you can always mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you need anything from us! We will be glad to help you if it’s within our reach.
Remember, although it won’t be easy, try to stay (mentally) healthy, or as they say in Serbian, biti zdrava!