Indian spiritual master, Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar was invited to address high-level Think Tank held at the European Parliament in Brussels organized by World Forum for Ethics in Business, to find solutions to and discuss the ubiquitous mental health impact of growing global challenges of polarization, social unrest and violence, economic and political uncertainties, and climate change.
The seminar found takers with over 200 participants in attendance including mental health experts, stakeholders, academicians and policy makers and members of European Parliament. Gurudev brought into their attention the fact that conventional methods used to address mental health issues worldwide can be given an added boost by making ayurveda, meditation and breathing a part of it.
Gurudev, taking the conversation around mental health much deeper, spoke about the incredible benefits of powerful breathing techniques in mental health disorders. When the mind is calm and clear, people are better equipped to make informed decisions with an understanding of the interconnectedness of life,” Gurudev says, “The key to accessing this inner calm lies within our own breath. Our breath has the power to regulate emotions and thoughts, reduce anxiety, and eliminate stress and tension.”
H.E. Mr. Santosh Jha, Ambassador of India to Belgium, the EU and Luxembourg, also shared, “The problem of mental health has been something that has come to the fore during the Covid pandemic even more at a global level. India is a country which through its ancient forms has had an awareness about it and solutions around it which we are very much willing through our efforts to bring it to the rest of the world.”
Mr. Jha in talking about the fast changing pace of lives said that a very fast traffic needs traffic rules and that “Gurudev is here to tell us about those traffic rules to observe which would help us to survive in this very fast changing environment around us.” He also enlisted the various policy measures and initiatives taken by the Government of India in the area of mental health, including passing the Mental Healthcare Act in 2017.
The other dignitaries present at the meet included –
- Hon. Mr. Ryszard Czarnecki, Member of European Parliament
- H.E. Mr. Santosh Jha, Ambassador of India to Belgium, the EU and Luxembourg
- Mr. Alojz Peterle, Former Prime Minister of Slovenia; Board Member, WFEB
- Mr. Pablo Ciano, Chief Executive Officer DHL eCommerce
- Prof. Anand Narasimhan, Shell Professor of Global Leadership and Dean of Research, IMD Business School
- Prof. Dr. Ulrich Hegerl, President, European Alliance Against Depression; President, German Depression Foundation
- Dr. Med. Petra Bracht, Founder, The Liebscher & Bracht Pain Therapy
- Mr. Roland Liebscher-Bracht, Founder, The Liebscher & Bracht Pain Therapy
Gurudev called upon everyone to work towards de-stigmatizing mental health illnesses and the need to build social connections, so no individual who is depressed or undergoing poor mental health feels unattended to.
The context of the session was set by the fact that the world is facing an unprecedented rise of depression, suicide and mental health issues. According to the WHO World Mental Health report published in June 2022, depression and anxiety rose by 25% in the first year of the pandemic, bringing the number of people living with a mental disorder to nearly one billion people.
While the global spending on mitigating the mental health crisis has remained insufficient. In 2020, governments worldwide spent an average of just two per cent of health budgets on mental health, with lower-middle income countries allocating less than one per cent. However, poor mental health costs the world economy an estimated USD 2.5 trillion a year in reduced economic productivity and physical ill-health, and is likely to go up to $16 trillion by 2030.
The Think Tank session invited members of European Parliament, mental health experts and civil societies to showcase and discuss:
• Innovative solutions to address and improve mental health that can be scaled up for global impact
• The interconnection between mental health and peace-building
• Latest research
• Mental health efforts as a competitive advantage: “The future workplace – Best practices of mental health initiatives for boosted performance”
Gurudev, who is traveling to Europe from the US taking forward his mission of spreading peace and bringing smiles to every face, shared, “It is appalling to see in the last few months, about 600 mass shootings have happened in the US and this is not normal, and the cause for this gun violence in many cases has been found to be poor mental health.”
The Think Tank Chair, Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar has been a global advocate for mental health for the past 43 years, with his techniques for stress-relief and better mental health being practiced by over 500 million people across 180 countries today. He has facilitated numerous projects on local, regional, national and international level; has worked with global institutions, multinationals; and also with highly vulnerable, at-risk people in conflict zones to increase their emotional and mental resilience. His work has been driven by the conviction that inner peace and the individual’s mental health and wellbeing are the basis for outer peace and societal prosperity.