Tuva Rosenvold, Mental Health Youth, Norway
If you want an idea to grow, you should plant it within youth. Youth are key agents for social change, economic growth and technological innovation. Thus, youth participation and involvement is necessary to ensure that the Global Disability Summit becomes a success. If youth feels no ownership to what the leaders of the world decide to focus on or discuss during the Summit, the effects of the Summit risk being short term. Through active participation, young people are empowered to play a vital role in their own development as well as in that of their communities.
Giving youth an opportunity to hold governments and donors accountable during the Summit can empower youth to better exercise their citizenship and political participation later in life. Such a cooperation would not only benefit youth, as donors and policy makers might realize the many benefits of working together with youth to ensure better practises, youth-based services and youth friendly policies.
In order to promote youth ownership to the GDS and an inclusive process, the Norwegian Association of Youth Mental Health recommends the following:
- Youth are given an opportunity to have some real influence over the Summits agenda and the civil society day. This can be done by putting together a global advisory board of youth or by using a youth reference group/steering committee.
- Young leaders (stakeholders) from the South are invited to attend the Summit. This can create effective channels of information exchange and cooperation between youth, their governments and other decision makers attending the Summit.
- Ensure attendance of youth organizations at the civil society day. Youth organization often have less resources than organizations for adults, so in order to ensure inclusion of youth organizations one might evaluate allocating some resources to ensure their participation.
- For those of us with a disability, Norway is probably one of the best countries to live in, but there is still a lot more to be achieved. Many youth DPOs that we have been in contact with have expressed a dissatisfaction with Norway’s failure to embed the CRPD into Norwegian law and told us about several structures and practices that leads to exclusion. While there is a lot of prestige in hosting a Summit, it would be praiseworthy if Norway had the courage to let youth point out some of Norway’s errors that prevents them from leading a full and meaningful life. We might talk a good talk of inclusion, but do we walk the hole distance to get there?
- If we are serious about inclusion, mental health cannot be overlooked. Mental health conditions now cause 1 in 5 years lived with disability. Around 20% of the world’s children and adolescents have a mental health condition, with suicide being the second leading cause of death among 15-29-year-olds. Mental health conditions can have a substantial effect on all areas of life, such as school or work performance, relationships with family and friends and ability to participate in the community. Now that Norway has an NCD strategy, and mental health has been included in the Sustainable Development Goals, the time has come to discuss how mental health care can be integrated into primary health care.