1 in 2 Kenyan adolescents report clinically elevated mental health problems.
In a country where the median age is 19, and projected to get younger, many youths—like I experienced firsthand growing in poverty in rural Kenya—do not have a fair chance to actualize positive life outcomes.
While Kenyan adolescents suffering from mental health concerns may attend school less, experience increased risk of suicide, and struggle socially and economically, positive mental health is associated with better overall wellbeing, closer relationships, and even better grades.
We have developed a simple, stigma-free, and scalable mental health intervention for students that by passes long and costly traditional treatments, making these positive outcomes more accessible to Kenyan students.
Our intervention—called Shamiri, a Kiswahili word for"thrive"—uses simple activities that target core beliefs about the self and the world; we help adolescents interpret events in more helpful ways, leading to an "upward spiral" of more positive beliefs, thoughts, and behaviors. Importantly, our for-youth and by-youth program is delivered by 18-to-21 year-old lay providers that receive specialized Shamiri training.
We have shown in rigorous gold-standard clinical trials with over 4500 students that our intervention works:
With your help, we can further embed this important tool into the Kenyan school system, positively impacting thousands more students with our mental health programming. Your contribution will fund crucial services in school-based Thrive! Centers, long-term mental health centers where students can access our proven programs and validated resources for free alongside a network of trained lay-providers and professional clinicians. Thrive! Center schools will gain access not only to world-class psychosocial support services, but also to teacher training, student leadership opportunities, and community events. With your donation, we can establish three Thrive! Centers at low-income schools in Nairobi, making a commitment to students' mental health and wellbeing year-round.