An initiative was taken jointly by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and Moner Bondhu to address the psychological crisis brought about by the impacts of climate change, for the people in the coastal belt.
An event was organized in Kamarkhola union of Dakope upazila under Khulna district to mark World Mental Health Day, where nearly 50 people, including men, women and adolescents from climate-vulnerable areas of Bangladesh, were brought together to raise awareness on the correlation between climate change and mental wellbeing, said a press release.
Apart from that, strategies for the victims were provided to build psycho-social resilience in their day-to-day struggle with the impacts due to natural disasters.
Attending the event, Rowshan Ara Begum, one of the participants of the event mentioned: “Never in all my 25 years of work have I been part of such a unique session”.
Supported by UNDP’s Local Government Initiatives on Climate Change (LoGIC) project, the one-day event was led by Moner Bondhu, a winning startup of Youth Co: Lab, aiming to address this year’s theme of “Making mental health and well-being for all a global priority”.
According to a recent report (2022), salinity, rising sea levels, and other adverse climate impacts could cause as many as 13.3 million people to leave their homes in the coastal areas of Bangladesh by 2050.
Climate change poses serious risks to mental health and emotional well-being, from distress to anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, grief, and suicidal behaviour.
“This session made us feel confident from within”, said Rozina, a housewife from Kamarkhola Ward No 1.
“I had no idea that simple breathing techniques and free-hand exercise could make me feel better both physically and mentally. Among all the training I have attended, this was surely the most rewarding one,” she said.
“Please hold more sessions like this”, urged Piya, a student from Shivnagar, Ward No 4. “When we feel mentally at peace, we can focus on our studies, our day-to-day activities and basically handle anything life throws at us. After today, we all feel important to ourselves.”
This event has been a revelation for chief guest Panchayanan Kumar Mondol, chairman, 6 no Kamarkhola Union Parishad as well.
He stated: “Prior to this initiative, I myself never considered the effects of climate change on the mind. I want to support in any way I can so that such events can take place.”
The event ended with Moner Bondhu offering dedicated one-to-one counseling services for free to the participants. Strict confidentiality and privacy were maintained throughout the event to ensure a safe space for the participants.
Highlighting the long-term significance of this event, the Founder and CEO of Moner Bondhu, Tawhida Shiropa stated: “This was not only a new experience for our beneficiaries, but also for us. We will continue to extend our support to build resilience and bring positivity to the lives of the climate-vulnerable population of Bangladesh.”
Through this one-of-a-kind initiative, Moner Bondhu and UNDP aimed to nurture the productivity of at-risk populations facing climate change, especially women and young girls, so that they can lead their lives with confidence and dignity.
Moner Bondhu, a winning start-up of Youth Co: Lab co-created by UNDP and Citi Foundation, provides holistic mental health support across Bangladesh through workshops, one-to-one counseling and mass awareness campaigns.
UNDP’s LoGIC project has been working since 2016 to enhance the capacity of vulnerable communities, Local Government Institutions and civil society organizations in planning and financing climate change adaptation solutions in selected climate-vulnerable areas.