The main objectives of the European Youth Strategy, which Koplopers originated from, are to provide more and equal opportunities for young people in education and the job market, and to encourage them to actively participate in society. Since our project mainly focuses on the participation of youth in society and as it even includes youth in the very project itself, it truly resonates these main objectives.
Koplopers, a three-year project financed by the Dutch government is carried out by the universities of applied sciences of Rotterdam and Inholland. At the start of the project a team of young people was formed. All of them have personal experience with mental health issues. Together with a team of researchers they planned activities in order to improve the participation of young people with mental health issues. In the first eighteen months Koplopers contributed to 55 meetings involving 700 participants. The aims of these activities- differing from presentations at an international congress to small scale conversations with key figures- was to bring the topic of mental health into discussion. Subsequently action was taken to identify the impeding and facilitating factors in participation. Peer-to-peer conversations on this topics were being held with students in higher education, patients of a psychiatric youth clinic, clients of youth work and of the youth employment office. In the next stage these findings will be analyzed and small scale interventions based hereon will be developed.
In order to create more awareness, openness and better inclusion for students with psychological problems in educational organizations, teachers, managers and other employees participated in several workshops and were trained to develop antennas in dealing with this specific target group. Also, a checklist of barriers and facilitators for participation of young people with mental disabilities has been developed.