Irma – Banovići

“Mental health is totally neglected here.”

“When I was a kid, I used to run away from school and just go sit somewhere in nature. In the mountains you can just scream til you feel good again.” Irma grew up in the small mining town of Banovići where her grandfather taught her a love of the mountains. In school she excelled at sports and played professionally until her studies in social science drew her away. “There is a huge mental health crisis here and no support system that works,” explains Irma as she walks deeper into the woods to a favorite view point. You can feel her frustration mounting as she describes her attempt to tackle that locally. “During my studies, I started a project that provided online mental health counseling for youth. We successfully identified teens in great need of help and I felt like we could really make a difference. But then when it came time to hand their cases over to local authorities, their needs were utterly dismissed. It’s hopeless here.” Irma stops to take in a long breath of mountain air and starts to tell more about her recently departed grandfather, her supportive family in Banovici, and her friends who are now spread out over the world. “I’m going to go to Slovenia for my masters studies and then try to get a job in Europe where social pedagogy is respected. I tried to fight for mental health here, but it’s just too far to go alone.”

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