Viewpoint by Mirjam van Reisen

BRUSSELS (IDN) - The UN Human Rights Council has adopted a ground-breaking resolution following the presentation of the report by the Commission of Inquiry (COI) on Human Rights in Eritrea. The Eritrean government has rejected the Commission’s findings.

The Council expresses deep concern at the Commission’s findings that there are reasonable grounds to believe that Crimes against Humanity have been committed in Eritrea since 1991.

The resolution requests the General Assembly “to submit the report and the oral updates of the commission of inquiry to all relevant organs of the UN for consideration and appropriate action”.

Though the resolution does not specifically mention the Security Council, its referral the United Nations' most powerful body, with "primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security" would open the way for the findings to be presented to the International Criminal Court.

- Photo: 2020

Sports and Art Suggested as Means to Promote Teens’ Mental Health

By J W Jackie

RENO, Nevada, USA (IDN) – Art, music and sports have all been proven to boost mental health across a wide range of age groups, but one new study by researchers at the University of British Columbia indicates that these extracurricular activities are a powerful way to boost teen mental health. The study, published in the journal Preventive Medicine, showed that teens who spent less than two hours daily on leisure-centred screen time had higher levels of life satisfaction and felt more positive about life in general. The findings were especially strong amongst girls.

The study was undertaken on almost 29,000 Grade 7 students from 365 schools. The researchers looked into the amount of time spent by children on activities such as playing video games, watching TV, and surfing the net, comparing these screen-based activities with after-school art and sports programs. They found that children who took part in art and other activities were less likely to use their screens for recreational purposes for two or more hours in their free time.

They also showed less anxiety and depression, and were, in general, more optimistic. Those who spent more than two hours a day in front of a screen, on the other hand, showed lower optimism and life satisfaction, and a higher rate of depressive and anxious symptoms. For both boys and girls, mental health was best when teens combined extracurricular activities with the habit of spending less than two hours behind a screen.

Art creation is a particularly powerful way for teens to boost their mental health, owing to its ability to lower levels of stress hormone, cortisol. Scientists at the University of Washington found that art-based mindfulness activities reduced headaches (a common side-effect of stress) in teen girls. The study, which saw a group of girls taking part in twice-weekly art therapy and mindfulness sessions, found that they enjoyed a 40% decrease in headaches.

Moreover, the effects were long-lasting, remaining even seven weeks after the study had ended. Art therapy does not have to be structured to have benefits. Teens wishing to engage in artistic creation can commence by drawing natural forms or parts of the anatomy – including the eyes. Drawing eyes is challenging yet beneficial, as it can help children express and discuss emotions. The many details that go into portraying the body (shade, light, perspective) require intense mindfulness, bringing the mind ‘into the here and now’ and helping teens to avoid excessive worry about the future or the past.

Sports (including cycling, team sports and running) have also been shown in various studies to lower stress and improve energy and mood. If stress is a problem for teenagers, focusing on mindfulness-based activities like yoga and Tai Chi can help them to manage it. The benefits are even greater if it can be taken outdoors, since nature itself is a powerful antidote to stress, depression, anxiety, and even too much screen time. [IDN-InDepthNews – 21 November 2020]

Photo credit: Valeriia Miller from Pexels

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