The Brain Health Mission (BHM) was an unmissable feature of the exhibition at the EAN Congress 2023 in Budapest. The BHM was represented by its own booth, covering 100m2, of hall G at the Hungexpo, and consisting of a lounge area with scientific books on brain health, a TV showing the brain health promotional video, a bicycle-powered smoothie blender, and a counter where participants could pick up promotional articles (buttons with “One Brain.One Life.One Mission”, tattoos and flyers) and find out all about the BHM.
On the walls were various posters, giving insights into the mission via the BHM Brain Bubble with its 23 sections on how to preserve a healthy brain and nervous system. Additionally, 23 different speech bubbles were spread out on metal poles that put every one of the 23 sections from the Brain Bubble on display, allowing people to walk around the booth and take in the recommended way of living towards a healthy brain.
The most attractive parts of the BHM booth were two columns with a poster each that asked people to leave a comment on either how they keep their brains healthy or how to live their lives sustainably. During the first two days it took the promise of a free glass water bottle to get people to write their ideas and input on a sticky note and put it up on these walls. After a while the walls themselves, especially the one for brain health ideas, became such an attraction, that people mainly wanted to be part of this initiative. Many came by, asking if they could leave their idea, taking photos, wanting to know more about the mission and even asking how they could get involved. Everyone who was interested got a flyer in order to get in touch.
Next steps – what are the next steps to be taken, considering all the above?
The advocacy campaign for brain health will be promoted through a new homepage. Cooperations with as many Partner Societies as possible will help the Brain Health Mission to become a strong force and get the necessary information out to all people.
Outcome of the interactive Brain Health Mission Wall:
Surprisingly, the input given was not very scientific, even though the vast majority of contributors had a neurological background. The answers were targeted to the wellbeing of the mind and the person. The majority of repeated answers dealt with the themes of sleep, exercise and food, followed by the mental status of one’s mind. Almost no answer was scientifically profound, as in cataract treatment, cholesterol, or blood pressure. This gives the impression that on the one hand people understand brain health as something mental, connected to the mindset, something that has a lot to do with the right state of mind, but on the other hand it also shows that there is a very strong need for an advocacy plan to include those whom we would expect to already have a higher level of awareness about brain health and who are supposed to be our advocates.
Many conversations with people took place because they had already heard about the BHM, either due to Prof. Paul Boon’s presidential speech or because they had come across it at some other point during the congress.
The overall resonance was that people found the initiative to be very important, helpful, and necessary. Many wanted to know what, apart from advocating for brain health, the mission would entail. Some wanted to know how to get involved and promised to reach out after the congress.