School students tackle mental health

As part of the Comprehensive Community Mental Health Project, our CBM partners and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, have been working with secondary schools to raise awareness on mental health within families and communities. Working with teachers, guidance counsellors and students to reduce mental health stigma and promote human rights of people with psychosocial disability.

How does it work?

Teachers and guidance counsellors have been trained on mental health initiatives who in-turn train student leaders to run awareness campaign activities in schools.

The project works to strengthen existing social platforms in schools such as the School Health Club or the Red Cross Youth Club to promote mental health. In FY 18-19, over 2000 students have been reached with mental health education contributing to increased mental health awareness.

Following successful engagement with mission secondary schools, a number of public secondary schools have expressed interest to partner with the project, providing an important opportunity for scale up.

Benue, Nigeria

In Benue, Nigeria, there are 37 student leaders who are working to destigmatise mental health in schools. Ann is one of these leaders.

‘My classmates used to call us mad people when we first talked about mental health’ says Ann, a 15 year old secondary school student.

With support from guidance counsellors, Ann along with other members of the school mental health club, have rolled out awareness raising activities using school plays and peer to peer talks.

“I joined the club to further my understanding on mental health and I enjoy my role as a student mental health advocate because we have been creative in the way we raise awareness so that everyone in school learns about the importance of mental health”.

The ongoing mental health education at Ann’s school has improved capacity of teachers to understand and support students.

Mrs Odang, teacher and counsellor says, ‘For example, now we know what to do when students suddenly have seizures and we take a further step to understand students ‘misbehaving’ which has roots on mental health. More teachers have indicated interest to be involved in the school mental health club as well.’