HALIFAX, NS (January 21, 2016) – Depression and mental illness affect youth regardless of where they live. Youth mental health is an issue often left undiscussed, not only in Canada, but especially in developing countries like Malawi and Tanzania where malaria and malnutrition are often treated as more pressing public health concerns. To help shine a light on this growing health challenge, TeenMentalHealth.Org and Farm Radio International are thrilled to launch Mental Health On Air: Healthy Minds, Resilient Communities at Halifax Central Library on Saturday, January 23.

Journalist Omar Dabaghi-Pacheco explores the power of radio to tackle the stigma surrounding youth mental health in his documentary, Mental Health on Air: Healthy minds, resilient communities. The CBC Ottawa reporter recently took a leave of absence to travel to Tanzania and Malawi to document the challenges youth face with mental illness in these two countries. His documentary discusses how one innovative project is starting a conversation in schools and communities across Malawi and Tanzania about mental health, helping young people recognize when they need help and training community health care providers to give needed care.

Mental Health On Air is a unique initiative funded by Grand Challenges Canada and led by Farm Radio International in collaboration with TeenMentalHealth.org, to raise awareness and reduce the stigma of teenage depression, enhance mental health literacy for educators and students through schools and develop for the first time, community based mental health services for young people in Malawi and Tanzania. It combines interactive radio programs for youth, secondary school curriculum materials for teaching of mental health literacy, school-based radio listening clubs and training for primary health care providers in the diagnoses and treatment of adolescent depression. The program helps reduce stigma about mental disorders among youth, parents, teachers and communities. It also increases access to adolescent mental health care. The initiative provides an opportunity to improve health outcomes for adolescents with depression in East Africa.

TeenMentalHealth.Org’s Dr. Stan Kutcher is thrilled with the significant and substantial improvements in all domains so far, which he will discuss further at the launch event on Saturday.

“It is amazing what this innovative project has been able to accomplish in such as short time with such highly positive impacts,” says Dr. Kutcher. “We are now in the process of embedding some of the training programs into existing health education institutions and working in developing phase two which will focus on scaling up this work across both countries and elsewhere in Africa as well.”

Following successful launches in Toronto and Ottawa, Mental Health On Air: Healthy Minds, Resilient Communities will be screened at a lunch event in Halifax on January 23 at the Paul O’Regan Hall, Halifax Central Library. This is an all-ages event and is open to the public. For more information on the event, please visit: https://www.eventbrite.ca/e/mental-health-on-air-halifax-documentary-launch-event-tickets-20477047400.

ABOUT TEENMENTALHEALTH.ORG

TeenMentalHealth.Org uses the best scientific evidence available to develop application-ready training programs, publications, tools and resources to enhance the understanding of adolescent mental health issues. Dr. Stan Kutcher works to create, develop and deliver research, education and clinical programs by collaborating with its audiences.

ABOUT FARM RADIO INTERNATIONAL

Farm Radio International is a Canadian charity that harnesses the power of radio to meet the needs of small-scale farmers. We work with 600 radio partners in 39 African countries to fight poverty and food insecurity. FRI resources and training help African broadcasters produce and deliver practical, relevant and timely information to tens of millions of farmers. We also work with a range of partners to implement radio projects that respond to community needs.

ABOUT GRAND CHALLENGES CANADA

Grand Challenges Canada is dedicated to supporting Bold Ideas with Big Impact® in global health. We are funded by the Government of Canada and we fund innovators in low- and middle-income countries and Canada. The bold ideas we support integrate science and technology, social and business innovation – we call this Integrated Innovation®. We focus on bringing successful innovation to scale, catalyzing sustainability and impact. We have a determined focus on results, and on saving and improving lives.

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Media Contact:

Kate Elliot, Communications Coordinator

Sun Life Financial Chair in Adolescent Mental Health

[email protected]

(902) 470-8444