WHO EMRO | Sixth round of mental health international exhibition of photography in Islamic Republic of Iran | News

Dr Syed Jaffar Hussain, WHO Representative and Head of Mission to Islamic Republic of Iran, presents opening remarks at the sixth mental health international exhibition of photography at Iran University of Medical Sciences in Tehran. Photo: WHO

Sunday, 31 October 2021, Tehran – The sixth round of Mental Health International Exhibition of Photography announced its winners during the closing ceremony on Sunday, 31 October, at the Razi Conference Hall of Iran University of Medical Sciences in Tehran. This year’s event drew a record number of 3872 artists from 82 countries submitting more than 30 000 pieces of work, with winners coming from China, Hong Kong, Hungary, Malaysia, Republic of Ireland, Russian Federation, Spain, Turkey, Viet Nam, and the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Similar to the previous round, the festival was organized by the Zanjan University of Medical Sciences in collaboration with the Focus Photo Club, Islamic Republic of Iran’s branch of the International Federation of Photographic Art (FIAP), and the World Health Organization. The closing ceremony was held in the presence of Dr Syed Jaffar Hussain, WHO Representative and Head of Mission to Islamic Republic of Iran and WHO professionals, Dr Parviz Ghezelbash, Chancellor of Zanjan University of Medical Sciences and the university’s Health Deputy and Exhibition Secretary Dr Mohammadreza Saeini, Dr Kamal Heidari, Deputy Health Minister, Dr Ahmad Hajebi, Director General of the ministry’s Mental and Social Health and Substance Use Department, Exhibition Art Manager Mr Ali Sameei, and diplomatic representatives from the winning countries. The event was also virtually attended by participating artists and other associated entities.

image-2First-place winner of FIAP Gold Medal, Exhibition Trophy, and 2000 Euro cash prize in the mental health section of the festival, titled ‘Life’ by artist Amir Enayati from the Islamic Republic of Iran

“This festival aims to increase public literacy on mental health and raise awareness on mental disorders through the people themselves,” said Dr Ghezelbash. “Following the COVID-19 pandemic and its psychological burden on societies, it is more important than ever to provide public education and services and help those living with psychological disorders.”

Mental health plays a significant role in the social life of people, especially when considering the changing patterns of epidemiology and diseases and the necessity of paying attention to noncommunicable diseases and psychological conditions, Dr Hajebi noted in his opening remarks.

“It is, therefore, imperative to take every step toward improving mental health indicators while taking into account the various aspects impacting psychological wellbeing which factor in local, cultural, and social circumstances of our country,” he underlined.

red-capeWinner of Exhibition Trophy and 750 Euro cash prize in the open section of the festival, entitled ‘Dreamlike Path’ by artist Cabezas Miguel from Spain

The mental health disorders and their burden are grossly underestimated, according to Dr Hussain. Based on WHO estimates, 32.4% of the years of life with disability and 13.0% of disability-adjusted life years are due to mental health disorders in the global population. “During COVID-19 for obvious reasons, the pressure of the burden has doubled, according to the Lancet, and anxiety disorders have increased by 72.6 million and reached 374 million,” Dr Hussain said in his speech on the occasion.

athletesWinner of ExhibitionTrophy and 1250 Euro cash prize in the mental health section of the festival, entitled ‘YES WE CAN’ by artist Lim Billion from Malaysia

“So, you can imagine how much COVID-19 has contributed to the burden of anxiety and depression. Looking at mental health disorders through photos is a strategic way of looking into it and bring to attention of policy-makers, decision-makers, professionals, physicians and care providers,” he noted.

palaceWinner of Exhibition Trophy and 750 Euro cash prize in the COVID-19 section of the festival, entitled ‘Fighting COVID-19’ by artist Lim Billion from Malaysia

“Mental health is not as alive in the public’s psyche as physical health, and earning knowledge on it is held back by the burden of stigma and psychological disorders which hinder interventions to raise mental health awareness,” said Dr Heidari in his speech, stressing the need to adopt multilateral strategies and multisectoral collaboration to increase awareness on the matter, and that initiatives such as this festival, which shed light on mental health problems through the medium of photography and a fresh lens, have the potential to amplify the impact of awareness-raising measures.

“The COVID-19 pandemic reminded us that mental health is an important topic for all the players including policy makers, health service providers, communities, and individuals,” said Dr. Mansour Ranjbar, Head of WHO Iran’s Non-Communicable Diseases and Mental Health Unit. “Ministry of Health and Medical Education of Iran won UNIATF prize in 2021 for excellence in delivering mental health services during the pandemic; this great achievement and conducting this exhibition are indicating that we are on the right track,” he specified.

The festival offered a cash prize fund of 9000 Euros in total to the winners in 3 sections of open, mental health, and COVID-19 themes.

image-6First-place winner of FIAP Gold Medal, Exhibition Trophy, and 1250 Euro cash prize in the COVID-19 section of the festival, entitled ‘Home Quarantine’ by artist Tolga Ulutas from Turkey

The winners of this round are Amir Enayati from the Islamic Republic of Iran, Michael Strapec from the Republic of Ireland, and Tolga Ulutas from Turkey in first places, Billion Lim from Malaysia, followed by other winners Jose Agustin Gurruchaga, Miguel Cabezas, and Pedro Luis Ajuriaguerra Saiz from Spain, Mehmet Aslan, Seyit Konyali, and F. Dilek Uyar from Turkey, Shangtuf Image and Art Club from China, Yuk Fung Garius Hung from Hong Kong, Andrey Smolnikov from the Russian Federation, Krisztina Laki from Hungary, Thanh Pham from Vietnam, and Bahman Zarei, Ali Asadollahi Sooteh, from Islamic Republic of Iran.

Image-7Winner of Exhibition Trophy and 750 Euro cash prize in the mental health section of the festival, entitled ‘Everlasting Love’ by artist Ali Asadollahi Sooteh from the Islamic Republic of Iran

In the open section, entrants could submit photos with a variety of themes including portraits, people, nature, wildlife, landscape, architecture, and still-life. The mental health section called for photographs with an emphasis on psychological, social, spiritual, and mental health, such as happiness, social connections, effective communication, children and vulnerable groups, acceptance of differences, stigmatization of psychiatric disorders, mental health components of public health and all other issues related to mental health. The COVID-19 section accepted photos related to human life during COVID-19 pandemic, as well as creative images or photomontages that have a message or reference to COVID-19.

Names and images of all winning works and submissions are available at the festival’s website at https://www.mentalhealthexhibition.ir/, and a select few are listed below.

image-8Winner of FIAP Ribbon in the Open section of the festival, entitled ‘Forest Road’ by artist Mehmet Aslan from Turkey

image-9Winner of FIAP Ribbon in the COVID-19 section of the festival, entitled ‘Aunt COVID-19’ by artist Seyit Konyali from Turkey

image-10Winner of Exhibition Trophy and 500 Euro cash prize in the Open section of the festival, entitled ‘Rising Stars of Football’ by artist Yuk Fung Garius Hung from Hong Kong

image11Winner of Exhibition Trophy and 500 Euro cash prize in the COVID-19 section of the festival, titled ‘Non-Stop Learning During Covid 19’ by artist Thanh Pham from Viet Nam

Robert G. Mull

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