- Publication date
- 15 December 2021
The online seminar, which took place on 18-19 November 2021, focused on gender equality, mental health and gender mainstreaming health policies. The seminar was an opportunity to discuss issues, which have become even more relevant due to the unprecedented challenges to mental well-being posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, including its impact on women and young people. This seminar was co-hosted by the Czech Republic and Sweden and involved 11 other Member States.
The Swedish good practices aim at ensuring gendered dimensions in research, policy and programmes to address the deterioration of mental well-being among young people in the digital age. The government youth policy and action plan 2021-2024 has a strong gendered focus on mental health and social inclusion; the Swedish Media Council has carried out a survey (2019) among children and young people to examine the gender dimensions of internet and social media use and self-perceived impacts on mental health; the Ombudsman for Children is undertaking a mapping of the use of pornography and mental health among young people; a new school curriculum on comprehensive sexuality education (CSE) will be introduced in autumn 2022, providing a holistic approach to sexuality, consent and relationships.
The presented Czech practices have an emphasis on integrating gender mainstreaming into health policies, with a specific reference to mental health. The new Gender Equality Strategy 2021-2030 includes health policies, and the National Action Plan for Mental Health 2020-2030 lays out gender specific measures. By fostering close cooperation between the Department of Gender Equality and the Ministry of Health, the overall aim is to achieve a high quality service, respecting the human rights of both women and men. Areas of focus include the destigmatisation of mental health care and the development of inclusive community-based approaches; raising awareness among care providers about gender bias and the social determinants of health; and improving working conditions of health care providers.
In the seminar’s discussions, participants emphasised the importance of an inter-sectional approach, and shared good practices e.g. regular monitoring of school student health, youth counselling and CSE in schools, and on-line materials on mental health. In some countries, there are strong gender-mainstreaming laws and practices, and positive developments to include gender perspectives in mental health care. In other countries, gender mainstreaming is not systematically applied. In some Member States, for example, in Central and Eastern Europe, conservative political and religious groups are challenging gender mainstreaming and advocating a ‘family-impact’ assessment approach.
It was concluded that a systematic approach to collecting gender-disaggregated data is needed. The introduction of CSE in schools would be needed to support the youth to steer through the digital world. Gender-awareness training for health care professionals, with a particular focus on teachers and trainee health professionals was also recommended.