AUBGers Assure Mental Health Support On One-Click-Away

May 09, 2024
AUBGers Assure Mental Health Support On One-Click-Away

Created by AUBG students Viktoria Nikolova and Mia Haydushka, One-Click-Away is an online platform initiated in January 2023 under the project “Youth Voices, Youth Choices”, supported by #MSDforMothers. Now, with funding from YSAFE and the American University in Bulgaria, it provides free psychological counseling and support for young people on matters concerning mental, sexual, and reproductive health.

Both Viktoria and Mia are third-year students at AUBG majoring in Journalism & Mass Communication. Viktoria chose to perceive Political Science & International Relations as a second major, and while engaging with the multiple opportunities on campus, like being part of Radio AURA, her out-of-class focus is on promoting sustainability as the president of the Sustainability Club at AUBG. In addition to the media studies, Mia focused on Psychology, and she’s devoted her “spare” time to performing arts, while leading the AUBG Dance Crew student club for this academic year. And yet, there mutual interest for mental health forced them to join their efforts and work on a solution-driven platform.

Read below the story of One-Click-Away told by Mia Haydushka. 

The idea

As a young person born and raised in Bulgaria, I grew up with some Eastern European views about mental health which are mostly stigmatizations about visiting psychologists and taking care of the mental health. In the recent years, being active on social media and being exposed to content from cultures all over the world, I began to realize the importance of mental health and especially how essential it is to normalize mental illnesses and embracing them and seeking help, instead of keeping everything in ourselves just “to not look crazy to others”.  

The problem

One in every eight people in the world live with a mental disorder, according to the World Health Organization. In addition, suicide is the fourth leading cause of death in adolescents..

The subject of mental health is becoming more and more popular and people around the world have started to realize the need of taking care of it.

In some countries, the UK and Sweden, mental health is part of the health care system. In Bulgaria, however, seeking this help or even only talking about your struggles with a specialist can cost a minimum of 50lv for an hour. This is a price that majority of the population (especially young people) cannot afford. This is why, Viki and I wanted to create something that will help people with their mental health and remove the financial burden for them

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Info session on sexual and reproductive health at AUBG

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One-Click-Away team at a conference in Tirana, Albania

The platform

The main activity of the platform is free online consultations with a psychologist for young people. Our target group is young people because of several reasons: 

  • Young people still do not have stable financial income, which means that they hardly can spend 50lv every week for a consultation with a psychologist.  
  • Young people, between 18 to 25 years old, still search for their place in the world. These years are full of new experiences and places – university, job and young people sometimes find it very hard to feel in the right place. This may lead to depressive episodes, anxiety and even suicidal thoughts.  

This is why the main objective of our project “One Click Away” is to break the stigma around seeking psychological help. In addition, with the platform and with our presence in social media (@yvyc_one_click_away) we aim to remind people that they are not alone.  

The impact

Even though we started the project with a lot of challenges and we were not sure how it would be accepted, we saw great results and impact after the launch.

A year after the launching of the platform, our three psychologists have done more than 270 consultations.

We have received great positive feedback both from young people, who have taken advantage of our services and from outside people that we have presented the project to. Thanks to our efforts and presentations in Bulgaria and around the Balkans, we were also invited to present the project in front of the Bulgarian Deputy Minister of Health, Mihail Okoliyski, and we got his full support.  

The future

We want to develop the platform more and more in order to provide the best services related to mental health to the young people. Right now, we are developing the platform around the Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights. We will add information about it and consultations that are dedicated mostly to sexual orientation and gender identity, gender-based violence and sexual and reproductive health. These are all topics that concern young people, so we decided that they deserve a special section on the platform. 

 The initiatives

In our Instagram page (@yvyc_one_click_away) we post reliable information about different mental illnesses in Bulgarian in order to educate our audience and spread awareness about the mental health illnesses. In addition, we post different “chill posts” as we like to call them, which are simple reminders that “it is normal to…feel sad, lost, not prepared for the future, have tough days”.

Very often in the busy daily routine, young people forget to check on their mental health and how they really feel and why.

We want to remind them that it is important to have these check-ups and that even if they are going through a difficult time, it is normal, and everything will work out in the end. 

We have had several events, where we presented the platform to the public (an event in Blagoevgrad, Pleven, Byala Slatina and in Tirana, Albania). In this way we promote both the platform and its services, and we spread awareness about mental health. 

In the future, we plan to have two workshops for young people. One will be dedicated on mental health and the other will be dedicated on sexual and reproductive rights.  

The team

In March we decided that we were ready to expand the team so that we could scale up the platform and its impact. We were able to attract young people from different cities to volunteer alongside our team through our social media channels. Right now, the team consists of more than 10 people! Three people are responsible for the website development and maintenance, 4 people prepare informative articles for our website and Instagram page and 3 people, including Viki and I, manage and coordinate the project.

The project is funded by the International Planned Parenthood Federation and YSAFE. It is under the administration of the Bulgarian Family Planning Association.