UNICEF Malawi Youth Advocates Launch #OnMyMind campaign
Normalizing conversations around young people’s mental health
Lilongwe, 22 October 2022 – UNICEF Malawi Youth Advocates – Chisomo Banda, Zakaat Sambo and Lisa Banda – in collaboration with the Ministry of Health’s Curative and Medical Rehabilitation Services - Mental Health and Substance Abuse Unit have today launched a mental health campaign at Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources.
The campaign is part of UNICEF’s #OnMyMind global campaign, which aims to normalize conversations about mental health and promote action in support of all children and young people. The youth advocates will travel to six tertiary institutions across Malawi, where they will host interactive talk sessions on mental health. Together with mental health experts, they will also share information on how to detect and take care of mental health issues, and where to seek psychosocial support, if required.
According to the latest available estimates, more than 1 in 7 adolescents aged 10–19 live with a diagnosed mental disorder globally. The majority of the 800,000 people who die by suicide every year are young people, and according to the World Health Organization, suicide is the fourth leading cause of death for young people aged 15–19.
“We know that too many young Malawians do not speak about or seek support when they are struggling mentally. They fear the stigma, ridicule, and rejection associated with mental health challenges and sometimes take drastic measures, including suicide,” said the youth advocates. “Through this campaign, we want to start the culture of positive conversation about mental health and encourage other young people like ourselves to normalize care-seeking behaviour,” they added.
“Every child has a right to positive mental health as it is an important part of their overall health and wellbeing, and it means better life outcomes for children. All duty bearers, including parents, caregivers, teachers, community leaders and the State, need to listen to our children and young people about their mental health challenges and solutions,” said Rudolf Schwenk, UNICEF Malawi’s Representative. “We fully support our youth advocates in this initiative because we believe that young people are best placed to speak out about issues that matter to them and, in the process, promote youth-led solutions and action,” he added.
As part of this campaign, the youth advocates encourage other children and youths to learn about mental health through U-Report.U-Report. Children and young people can SMS/text “TIPS” to 1177 on Airtel or TNM and access mental health information available in both Chichewa and English. They can also access mental health information on the Internet of Good Things Malawi platform: https://mw.goodinternet.org/.
Note to Editors:
- Last year, UNICEF released The State of the World’s Children 2021; On My Mind: promoting, protecting and caring for children’s mental health, the organisation’s most comprehensive look at the mental health of children, adolescents and caregivers in the 21st century.
- Mental health explained: https://www.unicef.org/on-my-mind#what-needs-to-happen
UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere.
For more information about UNICEF and its work for children, visit www.unicef.org.