By Alagie Manneh
The Supportive Activists Foundation, (SAF) last week continued its lectures on mental illness, engaging school-going pupils of Bakoteh Annex Lower Basic.
The day-long lecture, which also saw discussions including question and answer sessions, also witnessed the participation of teachers and few members of the volunteering organisation.
Issues like possible causes of mental illness, genetic influences, symptoms and understanding of the basic concepts of mental health were among issues discussed.
The founder of the foundation Solomon Correa, told The Standard on the sidelines that the school and its community lacks awareness on mental health or how to help people living with mental illness.
“So it is very important we start from grassroots level,” the young founder said of the significance of the training.
“Our children are the future leaders of this great country tomorrow. Schools are a key factor in trying to change the concept of the people in supporting those living with these mental issues. The best approach is through schools,” he pointed out.
Since its founding almost some two years ago, the foundation has reached more than 5000 students from different schools, and Mr Correa said he was glad people and students now are getting the “full picture” of what mental illness is all about.
Ali Sanneh, the head master of the school, said the training will help his school since there are children attending it who suffer from “mental disorder.”
“All these children who suffer from mental disorder cannot go to the special needs school, some of them are incorporated in the school system, so it will help us as teachers to help them when the need arise,” he enunciated.
Gal Sarjo, a volunteer, said SAF realises that in The Gambia, there is only one clinic for people living with mental illnesses which accommodates only “100 people” per night.
“This means that there are thousands of people out there who need mental aid,” the teenage volunteer told The Standard.
Isatou Sidibeh, a pupil of the school, said she was thankful for taking part in the lecture and discussions that ensued.
She called for more trainings of similar magnitude.