By Alagie Manneh
The Supportive Activists Foundation Saturday organised a gathering to discuss mental health issues among young people.
The founder of the volunteering organisation Solomon Correa said its prevalence is relatively high in that area, which precipitated the “urgent need” to engage and educate the people of Bijilo.
“Indeed, a good number of young people of Bijilo today suffer from mental health issues,” Mr Correa told The Standard.
“We [SAF] have a number of patients we are supporting there. And these patients have been viewed now and then in a very negative way. So we took it upon ourselves to mobilise the people and educate them on mentally unstable issues, especially on how to deal with people of trauma, so that the stigma and discrimination can go down.”
According to the young founder, if people continue bullying and discriminating of mental health people, the crusade to end mental suffering will remain an elusive dream.
“Everybody is mentally abnormal, all of us, we do things which we ourselves know are insane. Whether we know it or not, based on things we do when we are alone, if you were to do those things in public, people will say ‘he is sick, he is not normal.’ So in that sense we are all insane.”
He also said educating people on the issue must not be limited only to Bijilo.
“It should be for every place, for peoples view and treatment of these people is indeed sad.”
And the representative of the Alkalo agrees, telling the gathering that he too has a 31-year-old son, suffering from mental problem.
He earnestly advised them to not stay away from people with that problem, saying it makes them feel as if they were not part of the society.
“My son has been sick since he finished senior school. We must help them have a meaningful life.”
The three-hour event saw various other speakers, including volunteer Luke Jatta, who is currently under training to become prison officer, and health-worker Mr Muhammed Touray from the foundation No Health without Mental Health, NHMH.
The people of Bijilo also spoke, asking various questions on the topic and commended the foundation to keep up the momentum.
Mr Correa nodded, but said he expects them to now go back to their respective homes and disseminate lessons learned for the overall betterment of the society.
Founded in 2016, the volunteering organisation aims to help “every person who is mentally ill and needy to have the opportunity to achieve his/her fullest potentials.”