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Why and How to Speak about Mental Health and Psychiatric Illnesses?

  • Where: Václav Havel Library, Ostrovní 13, Prague 110 00
  • When: January 29, 2018, 19:00 – 21:00

In the Czech Republic depression and bipolar disorders affect more people than diabetes and asthma, and anxiety disorders are twice as common again (almost 1.5 million people). According to the World Health Organisation, psychiatric illnesses accounts for 40 percent of all illnesses and approximately every fourth person will experience some form of mental illness in the course of their life. However, we speak about mental health far less than about physical wellbeing.

The first of a series of three evenings will be dedicated to why and how a group of young neuroscientists, psychologists and psychiatric patients are tackling the problem of insufficient awareness, stigmatisation and neglected prevention in the field of mental health and illness in the Czech Republic. The discussion will touch on the Nevypusť duši (Don’t Let the Spirit Go) project, as well as inspirational campaigns in other states. On why it is necessary to focus on the language and vocabulary that we employ when we speak about psychiatric health and illness and how the use of personal stories can best spread facts and bust myths about mental health and illness.

There will be room for questions and a debate, while attendees will be able to draw on seven tenets of mental hygiene as well as a Manual for Loved Ones, which provides advice on what to do if somebody close to you has mental problems.

A series created by the non-profit Nevypusť duši (Don’t Let the Spirit Go), which is run by a team of young psychologists, neuroscientists and students of those disciplines. It also comprises psychiatric patients and people with experience of psychiatric illness at a young age. Nevypusť duši circulates information, busts myths and informs the Czech Republic about mental health.


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Letters to Olga – essays written in prison, letter

„I am a child of the age of conceptual, rather than mystical, thought and therefore my god as well – if I am compelled to speak of him (which I do very unwillingly) – must appear as something terribly abstract, vague and unattractive. But it appears so only to someone I try to tell about him – the experience itself is quite vivid, intimate and particular, perhaps (…) more lively than for someone whose “normal” God is provided with all the appropriate attributes (which oddly enough can alienate more often than drawing one closer). And something else that is typical of my god: he is a master of waiting, and in doing so he frequently unnerves me. It is as though he set up various possibilities around me and then waited silently to see what I would do. (…) His Last Judgment is taking place now, continuously, always – and yet it is always the last: nothing that has happened can ever un-happen, everything remains in the “memory of Being” – and I too remain there – condemned to be with myself till the end of time – just as I am and just as I make myself.“

Václav Havel:
Letters to Olga – essays written in prison, letter, August 7, 1980

Daniel Cohn-Bendit à Bibliothèque Vaclav HavelThe Faces of Resistance