WB Youth Lab: Youth working on mental health policies to build the region as an environment of care

15 November 2022

WBYL: Mid-Term Conference on Mental Health

WBYL: Mid-Term Conference on Mental Health

RCC’s Western Balkans Youth Lab Project hosts Mid-Term Conference on Mental Health in Pristina

Pristina – “Deteriorating mental health among youth during pandemic led to multiplied negative effects in the long run, which was an alarm to act. We have made first steps towards bridging the gap between the mental health needs and the policy solutions. Cooperation, innovative approach, equality and participation on equal basis among youth and policy makers have brought excellent results within the first Youth Policy Lab, and provided a solid base for youth pioneering in co-creating youth mental health policies which are to benefit all citizen of the region,” said Ognjen Markovic, Team Leader of the Regional Cooperation Council (RCC)’s Western Balkans Youth Lab, while opening Mid-Term Conference on Mental Health in Pristina today. 

According to Balkan Barometer 46% of young people from the region are unsatisfied with the way things are going in their economies; together with political environment, insecurities over their future, as well as high unemployment rates, going up to 33% in some economies, their mental health is suffering. Youth Policy Lab is a demanding and responsible process. It is based on the dialogue, focusing on youth engagement in policy co-creation, and paves the path to continuous youth participation in decision-making, leading to the region where youth see their needs fulfilled and the future brighter.

In her opening remarks, Ms Hillen Francke, Head of Sector at the European Commission’s DG NEAR, highlighted that the EU Youth Strategy 2019-2027, identifying mental health and wellbeing as one of 11 European Youth Goals, emphasises the importance of supporting comprehensive, safe, inclusive and youth-friendly health services, including mental health. This is as important for the Western Balkans as it is for the EU.  

Ms Hilaire Armstrong from the World Health Organisation’s Regional Offi¬ce for Europe and Ms Diellza Ibrahimi, Young European Ambassador, joined Mr Markovic and Ms Francke in the opening remarks. 

Co-chairs of Working Groups from each WB economy presented work done so far, based on thirteen (13) regional recommendations on youth mental health developed during Kick-Off Conference in December 2021. The activities in each of the WB6 include Youth Component of National Mental Health Action Plan 2023-2026, being developed in Tirana; creation of a policy overview aiming to improve the mental health of young people from 14 to 18 years of age in Sarajevo ; Development of Administrative Instruction Amendment on Mental Health in Pristina; Promotion of National Programme for Youth Mental Health in Podgorica; Creation of National Youth Mental Health Strategy in Skopje; and Formation of Coordination Body for Mental Health of Youth for Ministry of Health in Belgrade. Several media campaigns on importance of mental health are ongoing in the region, led by youth themselves.

More about the WB Youth Lab


Western Balkans Youth Lab is three-year EU funded and RCC implemented Project that kicked-off in January 2020.