The campaign for mental health in the city called ÇAVA? ÇAVA! will run until November, Source: Depositphotos

Hasselt creates the ‘Longest Bar’ to fight youth loneliness

Hasselt creates the ‘Longest Bar’ to fight youth loneliness

After two years of Covid isolation, many young people still feel lonely, so local authorities are trying to open up the way toward mental health services

Yesterday, authorities in the Belgian city of Hasselt organised ‘The Longest Bar’, an initiative to help local youth shake off the loneliness after the pandemic. The move is part of a long campaign by the city’s youth service.

The campaign is called ÇAVA? ÇAVA! and is a wordplay on the popular French greeting, meaning "How's it going?". It was launched in June 2022 and will run until November 2022. It features open events, as well as thematic podcasts on topics ranging from mental well-being to alcohol and anxiety. Each theme comes with its own monthly podcast episode and a curated programme of events.

Next month, the theme is barriers to mental aid, as the whole month of September will be centred around how difficult it is to find proper help. Considering that the ÇAVA campaign is aimed at 16 to 25-year-olds, many of them have never actively looked for mental health advice, or are deterred by high prices and long waiting lists.

Bringing young people to the social table

In August, the theme was loneliness – a persistent issue for young people during the months of lockdown in the past two years. According to a statement by the city, this is something many young people experience, along with its debilitating effects like lack of confidence and anxiety.

Additionally, authorities point out that many young people feel bad and therefore do not want to 'bother' their friends with their problems. Hasselt Alderman for Youth Habib El Ouakili was quoted by the VRT, explaining that in 2020 the city commissioned a survey among young people and the results were sobering.

To address the issue, authorities decided to organise a get-together event called ‘The Longest Bar’. The event was based on speed dating, featuring a long table, where people could talk and play board games and around 60 young people showed up.

They talked and switched places every 20 minutes or so, to keep the conversations fresh and lively. Additionally, they also had question cards and conversation starter games to help smoothen the process.

Are you between 15 and 29 years old? Take a moment to complete a short survey on youth empowerment on this link.



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