Hasselt creates the “Longest Bar” to fight against the loneliness of young people

Hasselt creates the “Longest Bar” to fight against the loneliness of young people

After two years of Covid isolation, many young people still feel lonely, so local authorities are trying to pave the way for mental health services

Yesterday, the authorities of the Belgian city of Hasselt organized “The Longest Bar”, an initiative to help local young people shake off loneliness after the pandemic. This decision is part of a long campaign led by the city’s youth service.

The campaign is called HOW’S IT GOING ? IT’S OKAY ! and is a pun on the popular French greeting, meaning “How are you?”. It launched in June 2022 and will run through November 2022. It features open events, as well as themed podcasts on topics ranging from mental wellness to alcohol and anxiety. Each theme comes with its own monthly podcast episode and curated events schedule.

Next month the theme is Barriers to Mental Help, as the whole month of September will focus on the difficulty of finding appropriate help. Considering that the ÇAVA campaign is aimed at 16 to 25 year olds, many of them have never actively sought mental health advice or are discouraged by the high prices and long waiting lists.

Bringing young people to the social table

In August, the theme was loneliness – a persistent problem for young people during the months of confinement for the past two years. According to a city statement, it’s something many young people experience, along with its debilitating effects like lack of confidence and anxiety.

In addition, the authorities point out that many young people feel bad and therefore do not want to “bother” their friends with their problems. Hasselt Alderman of Youth Habib El Ouakili was quoted by the TRV, explaining that in 2020 the city commissioned a youth survey and the results are sobering.

To solve the problem, the authorities decided to organize a meeting event called “The Longest Bar”. The event was based on speed dating, with a long table, where people could talk and play board games and around 60 young people showed up.

They were talking and changing places every 20 minutes or so, to keep conversations fresh and lively. Plus, they also had question cards and conversation starter games to help with the process.

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