I’ve been working on this project for sometime now and although I may have dropped some references on the Gram, I never properly introduced it yet. That day has come.

Let’s start with a little bit of background and a quick summary. Early on in my IBIS studies, we were instructed to work on a long-term project and advised to pick a problem that was dear to us. Having my fair share of mental health challenges myself, this has always been a relevant topic for me, but what really motivated me to look into this is the incremental rise in mental health issues, however mild or severe, amongst young people. I see so many of my peers struggle that I can no longer consider this an individual issue, but rather a societal and cultural one. I started researching and developing this all the while learning more and getting more passionate about tackling the issue.

Fast forward two years and my school project is completed (with a score of 100, by the way) but my vision has only grown stronger. So, I decided to dedicate myself to this mission for the months to come, dig deeper into it and contribute in whichever way I can.

So, that was everything squeezed into 160 words but if you have grown an interest in the project, I describe it in more detail below. I’m very excited about being on this journey and hope you will join me along the way.

What’s happening?

In the past few years, we have seen a strong increase of mental health issues amongst young people.

Recent research by LSVB shows that 50% of HBO (bachelor) students within The Netherlands are currently or have recently been struggling with mental health issues. The World Health Organization considers it a global health crisis and predicts depression to be the main cause of death by 2020. This data only confirms my everyday observations. Depression, burnout, anxiety and other psychological problems keep increasing among young people and start affecting them from an increasingly younger age.
This trend of deteriorating mental health is worrisome.

Besides individual suffering, this development has real implications on society, culturally and economically. As this generation will enter the workforce and soon become tomorrow’s leaders, we will need them to be sane, resilient, agile and emotionally intelligent in order to face the wicked issues of today’s world, and take care of their communities.

Considering the magnitude and increase of mental health issues, we may conclude that young people are simply not sufficiently equipped with the skills to maintain their mental health in today’s world. HBR recently published an article on ‘Why some people get burned out and others don’t’, attributing people’s ability to handle external pressures to their levels of emotional intelligence. Following this logic, the burnout epidemic and rise of mental health issues simply makes apparent the gap between the general level of EI and the EI required to navigate the challenges of one’s personal and professional lives in today’s world.

What can we do?

If we wish to work towards a prosperous and sustainable future, this gap needs closing.
I believe we should all learn how to take (basic) care of our mental health, as we do with our physical, as Guy Winch famously argues in his famous TED talk ‘The case for emotional hygiene’. We need to find a way in which we can offer resources, guidance to young people and help break down the stigma around the topic in all of society.

And exactly this is my project: to explore
how may we best assist young people in maintaining their mental health?

Why me?

I am passionate about this topic because I am them. I myself have been struggling with depression, borderline and later on, burn-out as a result of workaholism. Luckily my pro-active mindset and the support of my loved ones has often kept me one step ahead of my destructive self. But it hasn’t been easy. I have gone through multiple years of therapy, and independently experimenting with techniques such as reflection, self-help, philosophy and mindfulness. Surprisingly, once I started opening up about my mental illness, and got more into teaching and coaching, I started to see that many of my peers were struggling with similar themes. Both the resources and the sharing have helped me greatly and I would say I’m close to functional being now. These issues have affected me and so many of those around me and I believe that with a little bit of help, a lot of their struggles could be prevented, or restored. However mild or severe, I want to help others overcome their mental ailments, as I continue to battle my own.

This project, an initiative by Nadia Piet, is dedicated to improving mental health and emotional intelligence amongst young people. With a focus on The Netherlands, because that’s where I am located right now, and the sphere of education, as this is a place where young people come together and a formative life phase in which most of these patterns develop, I aim to develop a solution at the intersection of all key stakeholder’s needs, taking into account students, educational institutes, government and aligned partners and initiatives.

Why you?

Although a wicked issue in itself, I truly believe in the importance of this issue and am determined to contribute in whichever way I can. But I can’t do it alone. If you feel affected personally or are interested in contributing professionally, please do join the cause simply by spreading awareness, maintaining your own health, supporting those in need and keeping your eyes open to all insights and potential solutions.

If you are any of those stakeholders, or one of the amazing people already fighting the good fight, have an insight or opinion you’d like to share with me, would like to collaborate or contribute to the project, or are involved in this topic in any other manner, don’t hesitate to reach out and contact me at contact@nadiapiet.com.

If you’d like to stay updated on progress just follow me on any social media channel.
I look forward to hear from you and thank you for your time and interest so far.

With love,

Art by Sara van der Beeke, Electric Prisms.