Mohamed El Maandi has recently been heavily involved in mental health awareness initiatives in Egypt. With a passion for the cause, raising awareness and ending the stigma around what many see as a taboo, he uses photography and expression to help spreading his message. Mint El Mokadem kindly introduced us together in order to help speak louder about mental health in the Middle East.
Mohamed’s initiatives, hosting multiple support groups, has had a great impact on those who have attended thus far. He is an example for anyone with a desire to create an impact within the community. His support sessions take place in Osana Wellness Center, Maadi. They are about 2 to 3 hours long. Many participants have since took action towards seeking help, opening up and sharing their stories! We are proud that mohamed’s initiative has made many feel okay talking about mental health, knowing they aren’t alone post attending.
We dived deep into the topic with Mohamed…
Can You Comment on The Topic of Mental Health and Youth in Egypt.
As much as it’s a taboo that has not been deal with.
Recently it’s been picking up. Even if we are at 1% progress. That’s better than nothing.
It is still existing.
Depression and anxiety are hitting us much more than anything else in our generation today in Egypt.
We are seeing that with more liberty and freedom, more people are starting to speak out.
Do you Find Teenagers Having Adequate Support Psychologically? Do you Believe Mental Health Is In Need For More Attention in Egypt?
They do not honestly.
It’s not part of the educational system.
In our daily lives we do not tackle the issue at all.
People are afraid to talk about it fe masr.
And akid, mental health needs much more attention!
There are a lot of things to start off with like: what is mental health?
It’s something that has been addressed in a wrong way.
The way it has been addressed is what is causing that stigma and fear.
It’s nothing to be ashamed of.
We seem to view any psychological issues to be a shameful in Egypt.
Sharing it thus becomes a sign of weakness.
And the perception for many is that dealing with any mental disorders only needs adweya (medicine).
There are treatments that haven’t been addressed that need more awareness.
And What Do You Believe is The Root Cause Behind Mental-Health Related Issues? (Parenting, Relationships, Clash Between Cultures)?
I think the root cause cannot be linked to one thing.
But here are some things I will mention: Family.
Something that’s severely underrated. When I hold our support groups, it always comes up a lot in the group.
How messed up the family issues, violence, separating, divorce and inability to raise kids in healthy environment.
People don’t go through the right form of interpersonal forms of education.
For example, something as simple as the ideology of masculinity, el rogoola, mafhooma ghalat.
The Daily pressures of living in Egypt, a country that has suffered from deep fundamental corruption.
- How we tie mental health with religion without any knowledge of mental health being a field of study, no different to any specializations in the medical field…
- How women are treated in general. Mass sexual harassment in Egypt hugely affect the psychological states of females. 100%.
But overall, I’d say the lack of awareness.
With mental health here in Egypt…
You don’t talk about it.
You leave it.
It becomes much worse.
It spreads on, from one generation onto the next.
That’s really it.
Finally, What Message Would You Say to Someone Experiencing Severe Emotional Discomfort in Egypt? Advice/Tips?
I will assume, that emotional discomfort as they are going through depression that they don’t know.
The simple answer is to seek help.
Talk to a psychologist. I usually have a list of verified psychologists I really rely on.
But the question of “How do people find the right psychologists??”
It’s a problem I’m still trying to resolve on a grand scale.
For now, all I can say is seek a psychologist and not a psychiatrist.
I would tackle things and seek personal help, after finding no progress in how how I feel after two.
Please feel free to reach out to me if you are looking for help finding the right psychologists. I Would love to help direct you using the list I have spent a while gathering. They are all doctors I trust and your confidentiality will be guaranteed. You can reach me here anytime.
Feel free to message me anytime!
On a personal note, as Ally Salama, on behalf of Empower Mag, I’d like to thank Mohamed for his contribution to our Interview series. We heavily appreciate his efforts in raising awareness. We are working together to help many Egyptians seek help, ending an unnecessary stigma which burdens many souls in the country.
Please let us know who you would like us interview next in our BreakTheSilence Interview Series!
For inquiries, you can reach us at [email protected].