Speech of her Royal Majesty Mathilde during the BAPS junior day

Written by Tim Vantilborgh

Yesterday, her Royal Majesty Mathilde visited the Junior BAPS day at the annual BAPS meeting. If you missed her speech, you can read it here. You can also watch a news item from the local news stations Rob TV on her visit here.

Your Excellencies,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Dear students and researchers,

First of all, I want to congratulate the Belgian Association of Psychological Sciences on its 75th anniversary.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The COVID pandemic has focused our attention on mental health and increased both the general public and decision-makers’ concern for mental wellbeing.

Because of the lockdown and the pervasive feelings of uncertainty resulting from the pandemic, psychologists have had to deal with many manifestations of psychological distress, including high levels of anxiety, depression and eating disorders. 

Over the last two years, psychologists have also embraced a new role. In the media, through their presence in various expert groups and advisory committees, they have become interpreters of the science behind our emotions for a broad audience. They have explained our psychological resources and limits and the factors that help build resilience. They have warned about the threshold of resistance to a prolonged lockdown. And, while doing so, they have constantly underlined the importance of decision-making based on science.

As a result, awareness and interest in psychology has increased. This affords us, perhaps, the opportunity to reflect, in the longer term, on the contribution that psychologists make to our society, whether they are researchers or practitioners. As young people, you are well positioned to take a fresh look, to test new methods, and to develop innovative partnerships. Not only with your peers, as you are doing today, but also, by extending your contacts and networks to professionals from different fields, even if their approach and their background is different. 

Within a few weeks, the two Belgian Academies of Medicine will hold a major symposium on the mental health of children and adolescents, an issue very dear to my heart. This event will give a voice to young people. I hope that its conclusions will highlight the tremendous amount of work by researchers and the diverse experience of professionals in the field of children’s mental health. I hope, too, that the conclusions will speak to a broad variety of professionals involved with children and their families - social workers, school counselors and teachers, as well, of course, as decision-makers. The contribution of a new generation of researchers, a new mindset and new creativity, to this more integrated approach may help trigger new reflexes. 

Dear students and researchers,

You have chosen a field of studies and a career that is both challenging and exciting. As you know, I am a graduate in psychology and this field has always interested me. I am very much aware that, for graduates at the start of their career, the last two years have been particularly challenging. Luckily, the Belgian Association of Psychological Sciences has demonstrated its commitment to supporting early career researchers in overcoming difficulties and making this a priority. Today’s event, organized with the BAPS Junior Board, is a testimony to this commitment. I wish to congratulate all of you for your spirit and your dedication to your work and to society as a whole. 

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