Tunis, Tunisia - 15 November 2023
Raising awareness and sharing knowledge are key components of a comprehensive approach to preventing and countering drug trafficking and cybercrime, understanding drug use disorders, clarifying the role of mental health in our daily lives, and enhancing synergies between the United Nations, academia, and civil society in the context of research. In the markup of the UN Day in 2023, UNODC took part in a UN-wide awareness raising week in Tunis, which took place in the last week of October. The activities were in coordination with youth, national authorities and Ministries, Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs), National Research Institutes, partners, and the international community.
Students’ awareness on drug use and cybercrime:
During this week, UNODC organized two awareness raising sessions for high school students from the René Descartes High School on “drug use and its relevant disorders,” together with experts from the Service l'Espoir Djebel El West and the Association Tanit, and on “cybersecurity and Internet-related crimes,” in coordination with officials of the Ministry of the Interior.
The first session on “drug use and its relevant disorders” was opened with an exhibition of crafts, paintings, and sculptures created by people with drug disorders as part of their rehabilitation at the Service l'Espoir.
Students learned from the Tunisian Society on Addictology about drug consumption and disorders among Tunisian youth, the relevant harmful effects on the body and mind, and strategies for strengthening self-awareness and assisting those in need.
“Addiction can exploit the sense of emptiness within adults and young people, and one of the ways to counteract it is to become aware of one's value and give space to one's passions,” students added during the discussion.
A different group of students attended the second session on “cybersecurity and Internet-related crimes” to learn about the importance of one’s safety online and the risks within the digital world, including emails, social media, and video games.
The student discussed how current generations are extraordinarily familiar with technology and thus it is essential to provide them with critical tools to strengthen their awareness on security in the digital domain.
Hands-on Cooperation for Research:
Another initiative was that UNODC co-held a roundtable with the Secretariat of the National Narcotics Bureau of the Ministry of Health, and the Tunisian Laboratory of Toxicology. The roundtable provided an opportunity to explore areas of cooperation, to preview advanced studies such as the analysis of waste waters in the coastal area of Tunisia, and to examine published research such as the UNODC World Drug Report 2023.
The roundtable’s audience included Officials from the Ministry of Health, the National Institute of Public Health, the national scientific community, academia, researchers from the UN, CSOs, and the diplomatic corps in Tunis. Common national needs were given voice, such as the importance of data sharing.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) for Well-being:
UNODC provided an awareness session on Cognitive and Behavioral Therapy (CBT) for UN Staff from across Tunisia. The practical session provided a brief on the importance of taking care of and preserving our mental health from stress and negative thoughts, while providing simple techniques and tips from CBT and Positive Psychology that could be applied in daily life.
The session was given by psychologists and psychiatrists who are working in hospitals in Tunis and Nabeul, and who are supporting the implementation of UNODC project on CBT in prison settings. During the session, colleagues were given space to share stressful situations in their professional lives and receive advice from the experts on how to apply positive psychology and CBT to better face them in the future. These simple but effective techniques are a useful tool to accompany us even in complex moments of our daily life.
A step ahead:
These activities bear significance also beyond the occasion in which they were conceived and are part of UNODC's constant efforts to involving stakeholders and recipients of its work in a productive dialogue that leads to finding new solutions based on a whole-of-society approach and addressing issues of relevance for Member States at the national, regional, and global level.
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