HandsTogether Foundation is a non-governmental organization based in Buea, Cameroon, with a mission to providing capacity building opportunities and fostering civic engagement of youths whilst ensuring their development. In line with this mission, the organization launched a mental awareness project targeted at secondary school students in the Buea Municipality.
Objective of the HandsTogether Foundation Mental Awareness Project:
HandsTogether Foundation mental awareness project had several objectives, including:
Raise awareness of mental health issues among secondary school students in Buea.
Provide students with knowledge and tools to manage their mental health effectively.
Create a safe and inclusive environment where students can discuss mental health issues without fear of stigma or discrimination.
Implementation process for HandsTogether Foundation School Mental Awareness Project:
The project was implemented in several secondary schools in Buea. HandsTogether Foundation engaged with school administrators and counselors to gain their support for the project. The organization then organized training sessions and workshops for students, covering topics such as stress management, anxiety, depression, and the importance of seeking help when necessary. HandsTogether Foundation also created a safe space where students could discuss mental health issues with trained counselors and peers without fear of stigma or discrimination.
Impact of the HandsTogether Foundation School Mental Awareness Project:
The mental awareness project had a significant impact on the participating students. The project reached over 1,000 students across several secondary schools in the Buea Municipality, providing them with knowledge and tools to manage their mental health effectively. The safe space created by HandsTogether Foundation allowed students to discuss mental health issues without fear of stigma or discrimination, leading to increased openness and acceptance of mental health issues. The project also helped to build the capacity of school administrators and counselors to support students with mental health issues.
Emotional Impact of the HandsTogether Foundation School Mental Awareness Project:
The mental awareness project implemented by the HandsTogether Foundation in secondary schools has been a life-changing initiative for the students, the community, and the project team. At the start of the project, we were met with skepticism and hesitation from both students and school administrators. Mental health is still stigmatized in Cameroon, and many people believe that mental health issues are not real or that they are a sign of weakness. However, as we continued to work with the students, we began to see a shift in their attitudes towards mental health. They started to open up to us and share their struggles, and it was clear that they were hungry for information and support.
One of the most emotional moments of the project for the team was when a student shared that she had been struggling with anxiety for years but had never spoken to anyone about it. She had always thought that her feelings were abnormal and that no one would understand her. However, after attending the workshops and talking one-on-one with the project team, she realized that her experiences were valid, and that she was not alone. She expressed gratitude for the work and said that she finally felt seen and heard.
HandsTogether Foundation’s mental awareness project was an important intervention that provided much-needed support to secondary school students in Buea. The organization’s approach of engaging with school administrators and counselors helped to gain their support and improve the effectiveness of the project. The success of the project demonstrates the importance of mental health awareness in schools and the need for safe and inclusive spaces where students can discuss mental health issues openly. The impact of the project on students and the capacity of school administrators and counselors highlights the potential for similar interventions to promote mental health awareness and support in other communities.
Moreover, the HandsTogether Foundation’s mental awareness project had a profound emotional impact on the students, the community, and the project team. The project helped to break down the stigma associated with mental health issues and provide students with the tools they need to manage their mental health effectively. The project team was able to create a safe space for students to talk about their mental health, to feel heard, and to connect with others who were going through similar experiences. This emotional impact has