By Tanya Maswaure
“The mental health of our children must be seen as every bit as important as their physical health.”
Kate Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge, speaks extensively on children’s mental health and how parents must take precautions and pay attention to their children’s mental health.
Although this conversation has become increasingly common for adults, children are often overlooked, especially in countries with fewer psychological resources. Hussinatu saw this gap and is acting toward fixing that gap.
Amazons Watch Magazine spoke to 22-year-old Hussinatu Bah, a Sierra Leonian based in Kigali, Rwanda. Hussinatu is in her third year of her Bachelor in Arts degree, majoring in Global challenges at African Leadership University. “Initially, I didn’t plan to study out of my country, but things did not go to plan,” She explained. This change in plans is what led her to her current project. She began with medicine in Sierra Leon, but amid her studies, she fell ill. In her second attempt, she decided to try again in her country and took a leap of faith to apply to African Leadership University.
“At this time, I was losing a lot of hope and struggling because I had failed my first try in medicine.” Regardless she powered through and found herself studying Health Care in her Global Challenges degree. In her second-year programme, she became inspired to write a book on mental health for kids.
“I was still keen on doing health”, so in year two, her lecturers guided her to work on a global challenge that she was also passionate about. During that time, she was challenged with her mental health, and after doing research, she realised it was a real issue in Sierra Leon.
“I said to myself, okay, I like writing, so why don’t I join my passion for writing and interest in Mental health to help my country” She exclaimed. Hussinatu explained that when she was away from home and started reflecting on her choices and life, she realised she may have been depressed. The problem was that she would have no one to talk to, even in that case. “I could not even talk about it because there is no room for it. I want to be a part of creating that space.”
“There is a negative perception of mental health, and they think you are crazy. Often people at home think these things are all related to spiritual intervention and don’t deserve healing” Hussinatu explained that this stigma can be reversed if we start at the roots; if children are taught and learn about mental health, future generations will stand a better chance of reversing the stigma.
“My target market is age 6 to 10 years old. I want to use storybooks with creative and imaginative stories to teach children about mental health.”
Hussinatu also plans on reaching a million school-going children in Sierra Leon and Africa as a whole. She currently has a prototype, and she wants to publish it this year and working on getting grants.
“Together, we have the chance to make a real difference for an entire generation of young children.” ~ Kate Middleton, Duchess of Cambridge.