NAMIBIA will be joining the rest of the world in bringing more awareness to pressing mental health issues such as suicide and other general mental illness challenges, including the need to promote mental wellness and fighting stigmatization during mental wellness week.
Nashya Dunaiski, the Coordinator of Mental Health Awareness, said to tackle the issues affecting a large number of people in the country, a first ever Mental Health Awareness Walk (MHAW) will be hosted in Namibia.
The walk will take place on the 2 November 2019 in the Windhoek CBD.
MHAW is spearheaded and coordinated by Dunaiski, Lina Shiyagaya and Freda Lerato Kambangula, who are all passionate about advocating for mental health and ensuring that who need help actually receive it.
She said the walk will consist of speeches and poetry by various individuals, and hopefully, a musical performance.
People will start gathering at 09h00 and will walk for a total 10km.
There will also be an opportunity for networking and socializing before the actual walk takes place.
The event is dedicated to improving the quality of life of those living with mental illness by means of education, denouncing bullying, denouncing derogatory terms used against those living with mental illness, as well as advocating for acceptance and respect to those living with mental illnesses.
There are plans to have the walk annually to ensure that the voices of those battling mental illnesses are reciognised.
“We would like to start cultivating inclusion of people with different abilities in schools around Namibia, influence policy, raise public awareness, work towards socio-emotional education for students and connect more people to support services around the country,“ Dunaiski noted.
The idea is to create a community of people, friends, families, children, non-profit organisations and schools around Namibia that will help normalise mental health and promote mental wellness.
The planning of this event is under the premise that, in Namibia, mental health is not given enough attention.
“It is important that the mental health crisis in Namibia is given the necessary spotlight and this will hopefully assist the public at large to see it in an entirely new light; and that this walk encourages more dialogue within our communities,” she said.
This will also be a safe space for participants to discuss, share and unpack their experiences with mental illness and the stigma in Namibia, in a safe and ridicule-free environment.