In the wake of the International Mental Health Day commemorated every 10th October, Youth Advocacy Program Africa (YAPA), an organization based in Kigali, Rwanda seeks to send a strong message albeit virtually. The youth led organization under the stewardship of Co-founders Valentine Bassey of Nigeria and Nyokabi Waweru of Kenya are determined to create maximum positive impact on mental health with their capacity and within the reality of the prevailing Covid-19 pandemic.
The YAPA activity series include; mobilizing young Africans to use creative arts to define mental health and struggles in their unique contexts, it also includes team building sessions on mental health, as well as mobilizing youth from several African countries to pass out messages in their circles through virtual channels. The drive has attracted several participants from over 15 African Countries and shall continue throughout the year until meaningful impact is achieved or measurable.
Mental Health remains a major challenge in Africa and yet there’s no shortcut solution. YAPA recognizes that the root causes are multi dimensional including; poverty, conflict, malnutrition, poor education methods, religious and societal pressure, early marriages and unemployment among many causes. Mental distress and illness manifests in form of alcoholism, drug abuse, violent behaviors, isolation, among other ways, however, most times it never manifests at all, the victims many times perish living and even dying in silence.
Given the multi dimensional path towards a mentally healthy continent, YAPA believes the biggest hope is in uniting various forces of change, particularly organizations and governments. While one organization may focus on awareness, another might focus on physical well-being and malnutrition, another alcohol and rehabilitation, et cetera. Such various but focused efforts will bring us closer to a sustainable solution to mental distress and illness in Africa.
Finally, mental health is a big part of Africa’s journey to a better future. Africa needs a strong supply of mentally healthy and emotionally intelligent citizens in all sectors of society and in particular in leadership.
Featured Messages from YAPA members.