Maplewoodians Bring Mental Health Care to Africa
Startup group has a booth at Maplewoodstock.
Four Maplewood residents are among those piloting a new global organization, StrongMinds, aimed at providing mental health services in Africa. All are dedicating their efforts as volunteers as they seek to raise funds to support the effort.
It may sound like a pie-in-the-sky idea, but these four are seasoned professionals and volunteers, with backgrounds in non-profit work including efforts in Africa and other overseas’ nations.
Strong Minds Founder and Executive Director Sean Mayberry, who has spent decades working for anti-poverty and health programs in the U.S. and developing nations, sent an email to friends this spring introducing the organization:
“Many of you are aware that I recently started a new non-profit organization to help impoverished people in Africa with mental illnesses. We are called StrongMinds, and I’m proud to say that I am joined by several friends and colleagues, both in the U.S. and in Africa, who are volunteering their time to help us grow StrongMinds. Our small team is working together to help implement an innovative approach to battling the number one mental illness in Africa—major depression disorder, or more commonly referred to as just depression.”
Mayberry notes that many think of mental health issues as Western or middle-class problems — as something that is not a primary obstacle facing Africans. However, Mayberry says that many Africans cannot even begin to tackle issues like poverty and economic development until they overcome depression. He posits the case of an African mother in the Congo who has five kids but battles with depression.
“She is frequently fatigued, finds it hard to concentrate, some days she can barely get out of bed, she is withdrawn from her community. She neglects her children, her spouse, and her enormous daily chores go unaccomplished, which leads to strife with her husband. She visits the local health clinic, but since they were untrained in mental health, she could not be helped. Her life will continue like this unless an organization like StrongMinds can find and help her.”
Read more at Maplewood Patch.com.