Mental health is a crucial aspect of overall health and well-being, yet helping professionals such as youth- and social workers, teachers, healthcare providers and various adult educators often face unique challenges in maintaining their own mental and emotional well-being. Especially the after waves of the Covid pandemic and current economic and war crises makes their work being there for others extremely challenging. Heartland is a project that aims to address this issue by promoting resilience and well-being through non-formal education methods.
The concept behind Heartland is that helping professionals can benefit from learning about mental health in a relaxed and interactive environment, rather than a traditional lecture-style setting. The project uses methods such as outdoor activities, art expression, mindfulness practices, storytelling, cultural mediation, self-reflection and group discussions to help participants explore and understand different aspects of mental health, stress management, and self-care.
In the long term one of the key goals of Heartland is to destigmatize mental health issues and promote a more open and supportive culture. By creating a safe and non-judgmental environment, Heartland encourages helping professionals to be more proactive in taking care of their own mental health and seeking help when needed.
Another important aspect of Heartland is its focus on resilience. Helping professionals often face stressful and challenging situations, and it is important that they have the tools and strategies they need to manage these experiences in a healthy and effective manner. Through the various exercises and activities offered by Heartland, participants have the opportunity to practice and strengthen their resilience skills. The so-called Heartland resilience tool kit of 40 cards with self-directed learning and group activities fulfill this purpose to work with the offered activities by themselves and with their target groups. In addition the on-line course “On Heart and Soul” guides helping professionals Europe wide through the Heartland journey and they can acquire resilience skill development by themselves in their homes and in their workplaces.
Beneath its focus on mental health and resilience, Heartland also aims to foster a sense of community among helping professionals. By bringing people together from different fields and backgrounds, the project provides an opportunity for them to connect, share experiences, and support each other. In September 2022 the partners created a 2 days Heartland conference inviting professionals across the resilience spectrum to exchange ideas and inspiring workshops about well being from the aspect of mainstream psychology till the realms of meditation and mindfulness practices. The Heartland documentary video records the open and creative atmosphere of the gathering of 90 helping professionals.
In conclusion, Heartland is a unique and innovative project that addresses the critical issue of mental health and well-being in helping professionals. By using non-formal educational methods, the project promotes resilience, destigmatizes mental health issues, and creates a supportive community for those who dedicate their lives to helping others.