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Staying Resilient While Trying to Save the World

The importance of emotional health in the fight for change.

Written by Amnesty Team

Staying Resilient While Trying to Save the World

01 Stress, burnout, anxiety, depression and other forms of mental strain are common challenges faced by global activists.

02 We can't make a difference if we aren't well. That's why Amnesty International's Global Youth Collective created a resource for young change-makers who are feeling overwhelmed by their work.

03 We are now bringing this resource to life in a Live Instagram series that hopes to raise awareness of the topic and offer recommendations.

Have you ever felt overwhelmed, unmotivated, cynical, emotionally drained, stressed and detached from your activism?

We all have — campaigning for change is straight-up exhausting. People who fight for human rights are some of the most passionate people on the planet — they care deeply about other people, the Earth itself, and creating a just world.

That’s what makes activism so empowering and so much fun: working with others who have the same dreams and the same drive as you, who want to protect and respect human rights around the world. This is why being part of a global movement like Amnesty International can be so inspiring. 

But there’s also a darker side to activism. While trying to make the world the best place it can be, you see the worst of it. It can make you question what you’re doing and wonder “what’s the point?”

And it can seriously impact your mental health. Burnout, stress, depression, anxiety, trauma and other forms of mental strain are common challenges faced by activists of the past and present.

Stress usually occurs when there is a build-up of pressure which is above the level a person can cope with. Although in certain moments being under pressure is not necessarily a bad thing, in the long-term it can negatively affect your overall physical and emotional health. 

But none of this makes you weak. It’s totally normal. Recognizing and understanding triggers can help you address and deal with them.

While trying to make the world the best place it can be, you see the worst of it.

This is why young activists from Amnesty International came together to talk about the burnout we've all been feeling. But we also wanted to produce something that could help everyone avoid these pitfalls, while continuing to fight for human rights in a way that doesn’t drag you down.

Something that you can use to keep yourself healthy, happy, and inspired. Because you can do both — be an activist AND have a life. 

This summer, members of our team published a resource titled Staying Resilient While Trying to Save the World — a fanzine about burnout and emotional strain. Now, we've partnered with Made of Millions on a series of Live Instagram talks that bring this resource to life.

For the next few weeks, we'll be chatting with youth leaders from our global teams about their personal experiences with activism and mental health. We'll wrap the series by chatting with mental health professionals to get their thoughts on the topic and offer recommendations.

We understand that the discussion around mental health, wellbeing, self-care, and burnout is complex. There is no one-size-fits-all solution and we do not attempt to come up with one here. We believe it’s important to emphasize the fact that it can be dangerous to generalize the experiences of our activists or reduce them all to the same experience, as no one source of information can accurately represent the experience of every person.

We hope that this sheds some light, answers some questions, prompts some ideas, and at the same time sparks conversations about the topic of mental health that are more comprehensive, more nuanced, and more sustained than before — because the conversation shouldn’t end here.

Tune in to the series live on Monday, Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays on the Made of Millions and Amnesty Instagram pages.

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