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Mental Health Networking Events and Knowledge Sharing: An Inspiration!

  • Post category:Blog
Muqaddas Asif, Psychologist

On June 7th 2022, I travelled to Karachi from Lahore so that I could leave for Austria with my colleagues. As this was my first trip to Europe, I was a little apprehensive about the long journey but at the same time, I was very excited about it. We started our journey towards Austria at 2:30 AM from Karachi International Airport. We travelled on Emirates Airline to Vienna via Dubai. I enjoyed both, the travel and the food in Emirates.

As soon as we entered the skies of Austria, the sight of beautiful white clouds took my breath away and how I felt is very difficult to describe in words. As someone like me who is a nature lover, I wanted to lose myself in these clouds. After travelling for about 14 hours, we finally reached Vienna. Following our arrival at our B&B, we rested for a while, had dinner, prepared our presentations for the conference, and then went to sleep.

The next morning, June 9, it was a rainy day and a very lovely morning. All of us, my colleagues and mentors at the Pakistan Institute of Living and Learning (PILL) reached the European Association of Psychosomatic Medicine (EAPM) Conference at Hofburg and got our conference badges from the registration counter.

Researchers from different cultures across the globe came together there to share their knowledge. The conference provided an excellent opportunity to build and strengthen networks in psychosomatic research.

It was indeed a great chance to share world-leading research from Pakistan across international borders. We participated in special interest group meetings where the PILL team made their valuable contributions by sharing and exchanging experiences and perspectives in mental health research. Considering new challenges and new approaches, we discussed insights for future research in collaboration with top-class researchers and speakers from across the globe.

Coincidentally, I also met my colleague, Thea who had come all the way from Canada to attend the conference. Thea and I are working together on a project on explanatory models of borderline personality disorder. We did not think that we would meet like this so soon.

It was a pleasant surprise for both of us. She is lovely! We talked about each other’s research interests and future research plans. We had coffee together and went to our sessions after the break.

As well as it being a great learning experience for me as a young researcher, I also visited exquisite churches and gardens in Vienna. There were a lot of monuments, best to click photos with. I found the city of Vienna very beautiful and mesmerizing. The people there were so welcoming and friendly. Much gratitude to PILL for sponsoring my visit for my professional development.

I am glad that the mental health community across borders worldwide is standing together to address mental health crises for a better future and I am very proud that I am playing my part in this endeavor. I look forward to the day when people with mental health difficulties, their families and friends, will speak for themselves and their loved ones; to beat stigma, shame, and discrimination against mental health; with resilience and will talk freely about mental health issues. I am hopeful that this is going to happen one day. Let’s play our part, from now on. And let’s hope together!