Students at Cherub Private School in Lilongwe were on Thursday, 10th October encouraged and informed on ways to deal with depression, anxiety as well as understand the effects of drug and substance abuse through an event dubbed "The Youth Movement for Mental Health Awareness" (TYMMHA).
A cross section of students participants at Cherub Secondary School One of the facilitators interacting with the students A Cherub Secondary School student participating in mental health awareness
Organized by a local event and entertainment management firm, Macadamia Entertainment, the event was the first of a series of interactive sessions aimed at secondary level students in an effort to raise awareness of mental health issues among youth as well as inform them on how to seek help for and deal with various issues concerning mental health.
The event also coincided with World Mental Health Awareness Day which falls on the 10th October and served as the official launch for the TYMMHA initiative.
Speaking to Nyasa Times, Macadamia CEO Alinane Njolomole described the initiative as a way of giving back to the community whilst also playing a part as responsible citizens.
"As Macadamia we noted the rise in mental health, anxiety as well as drug and substance abuse issues among youth in the country and we felt something had to be done to counteract the effects as well as the stigma surrounding mental health issues," Njolomole said.
Facilitated by Beatrice Chiphwanya, a trained psychologist and Titani Madomba, an adolescent health specialist, the event aimed to educate the students on several key issues including the various causes of depression and anxiety, how to identify depression, how depression and anxiety can be treated, the effects and risks of drug and substance abuse as well as directing them to the various sources of help available to young people affected by mental health issues.
"TYMMHA sessions focus on interaction and engagement of adolescents by a youthful team because through our experiences managing and promoting events, we know that the youth are more likely to pay attention to messages delivered by fellow youth hence us taking the initiative to engage adolescents because they are at high risk of being affected by mental health issues yet usually have very little information on where to get help. This is the first session where a group of us offered our services and time voluntarily to make it possible", explained Njolomole.
In his remarks, the Headmaster for the Secondary section at Cherub Private School, Mr. D.M Chalemera expressed his gratitude in the youthful team's initiative to engage their fellow youths and educate them on a growing concern among many parents and teachers in the country.
"We are seeing a rising number of mental health concerns among the youth and we are happy that it is their fellow youth who are taking lead in informing our students on the issues that were discussed here.
"Depression, anxiety and substance abuse can affect the learning of our students and as teachers we are very happy that the students have come away with practical knowledge on how they can support each other and help themselves if they are facing such circumstances", said Chalemera.
The TYMMHA team will be holding consecutive sessions in other schools around the Lilongwe area to promote mental health awareness among adolescents secondary schools.
TYMMHA is a youth group established by Macadamia Entertainment whose main aim is to raise awareness on issues of Mental health and substance abuse.