Third Leonidas Donskis Memorial Conference

“Mind the Gap - emotional wellbeing and social solidarity during COVID-19”

September 21, 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the world within weeks beyond recognition. The globalized world has been reduced to an archipelago of individual countries under varying levels of lock down and the prognosis is that the old will only return once a vaccine has been founded and a large segment of the world population has been vaccinated. While rules and regulations are gradually being eased, the fear of a second and maybe even third wave lurks. Rulers have used extraordinary powers to impose surveillance methods, and in some cases suspend democratic rule. Some argue that the pandemic has had grave repercussions for democracy, while others argue that the pandemic has in fact effectively limited the possibilities and power of authoritarian leaders.
 
What has become quite evident is the fact that the pandemic will have a serious effect on global mental health. This effect was unfortunately mostly ignored or negated on the outset, which was highlighted by the UN Secretary-General in his May 13, 2020 Policy Brief “Covid-19 and the Need for Action in Mental Health”, but now many believe that the mental health effects of the COVID-19 pandemic will be a pandemic on its own accord.

People with psychosocial disability find themselves in a very difficult situation, but also the millions whose future are uncertain and who face anxiety and depression or have suicidal thoughts will create an extra burden for the already battered health care services and economy in general. While now many service users stay away from professional help out of fear of infection, in the long run there is a chance services will be overrun. Students at institutions of higher education are heavily affected due to the uncertainty about career options, both in the short term e.g. studying abroad and in the long term because of the inevitable economic depression.
 
The Mind the Gap conference in memory of Leonidas Donskis will focus on these issues and will also be the launch of a Mind the Gap University Support Program initiated by Vytautas Magnus University and involving universities in a number of other countries.
 
The conference will be followed by a reception memory of Leonidas Donskis and the Annual Donskis Commemorative Concert at the M.K. Ciurlionis Gallery. For both events advance registration is obligatory.

The Andrei Sakharov Research Centre contributes to the development of a pluralist and democratic society in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union.

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