Toespraak van Hare Majesteit de Koningin naar aanleiding van het virtuele event over mentale gezondheid en ‘peacebuilding’
(Toespraak uitgesproken in het Engels)
Madam Deputy Secretary General,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The disastrous effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on mental health and well-being have amplified the need to better understand the risks that psychological distress poses if adequate responses are not available or remain insufficient.
On several occasions, including at the United Nations, I have had the opportunity to address the long-term impact of conflict, of combat experience and of violence in all its forms on mental health, in particular where children are concerned. The international community is gradually recognizing the importance of adequate psychosocial support and rehabilitation for the victims of conflicts and crises. This type of support can play an important role in preventing individual and collective relapse into antisocial behavior, or into hostilities. There is also an emerging consensus on how to best integrate this type of support in humanitarian and rehabilitation settings.
However, the ripple effects of conflict and trauma are, to a large extent, unpredictable. Despair, anxiety and other psychological conditions can last for years and even be passed on to subsequent generations. Providing support over an extended period can prove a challenging endeavor, especially when new priorities take center stage. Nevertheless, support is essential if we want to put an end to stigmatization, to secure the full and lasting reintegration of victims in their communities, and to allow them and their families to live life to the full.
Today’s event invites us to broaden the scope of the conversation. Providing psychosocial support during or just after tragic events that leave many individuals helpless and traumatized is, of course, of the utmost importance. It should remain a priority. But even in seemingly peaceful environments, stressful situations, such as perceived injustice and discrimination or even extreme poverty, may develop. These may then translate into permanent anxiety, feelings of powerlessness, insecurity and victimization, loss of self-confidence and loss of trust in others. If left unattended, such feelings can in turn damage the social fabric and contribute to raising tensions.
Prevention is key. Building peace and sustaining peace are two sides of the same coin. The experience we have acquired in bringing mental health and psychosocial assistance to the victims, during or in the immediate aftermath of a conflict, can serve as an inspiration to go further. Successful implementation will require the cooperation of all concerned: humanitarian organizations and psychosocial experts, as well as local leaders, communities and citizens, including women and youth. As we move ahead, let us build bridges between their respective areas of expertise. The comprehensive approach offered by the Sustainable Development Goals should encourage all of us to look beyond silos and reinforce partnerships.