Audio postcard: Positive Mood — creating a safe space to talk about mental health

Radio Five DJs Goodluck Kissanga (right) and Haazu Hamis Abtway (left) interviewing students at Maji Ya Chai Secondary School.

The laughter of students is contagious at a recording of Positive Mood hosted by Radio Five DJs Goodluck Kissanga and Haazu Hamis Abtway.

The DJs visit schools across northern Tanzania to record the program in classrooms, allowing the voices of students to be heard on the air and creating a safe and fun space to talk about mental health. The Positive Mood radio program is the first of its kind in Tanzania, a country where mental illness is not well understood.

Goodluck has been working on the show since it started last December. He says the program has taught everyone involved more about mental health, including himself.

“I learned many things . . . The students, they gain, because before [the programs started] they didn’t know about mental health or mental illness. But at this time, if you go to a school and ask them a question about mental health, they can respond to you that mental health is this, this, this and mental illness is this, this, and this.”

Goodluck says the students ask him many different questions in-person and on the air, and he is able to connect them with mental health experts to give them advice. He recalls one student’s question in particular, who was worried his brother might have a mental illness.

“His brother had a problem, that’s why he came to me, asking me ‘Goodluck, what can I do in order to help my brother, because he is not in a normal condition, and I think maybe he as a mental illness. So I asked him to go to a specialist of mental health so that they can help him to solve them problem. I think there was a positive solution, because at this time his brother started to get care. The specialist helped him, so that day-to-day he became more healthy than before.”

Through the project, 30 schools in northern Tanzania have been reached — each with its own listening club. Though there are many more listeners across the country who call in and use Farm Radio’s beep2vote technology to answer weekly polls.

Goodluck says the entertaining five minute weekly drama Bahati and the participatory nature of the show keep young people tuning in.

“The drama is very good. Also, in our program we let [the students] show their talent. Either singing, the comedians, and so on. But all in all, the program is very, very good. When we go to the schools and we meet with different students, they all have different ideas. When we’re discussing program topics, everyone shares his or her idea. After that, all of them — everyone — acts like him or herself.”

Goodluck hopes to continue educating and connecting with youth about mental health through the program.

“It’s helped the listeners. You know, as a Tanzanian, I know most of them, they don’t know about mental health. But, due to this program, they start to [ask] what is mental health, and how can I help people who have with a mental illness?”

Positive Mood is one of two radio programs that are part of our “Integrated youth mental health” project, on air and in classrooms in Malawi and Tanzania. Learn more about this project.

Kayla Wemp
About the author  
Kayla Wemp is is a recent graduate of Carleton University’s Bachelor of Journalism program. She is spending her summer interning with Farm Radio International in Tanzania, working on telling stories from their mental health program and various agricultural projects.

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