Audio postcard: Talking about mental health — with youth

A broadcaster at Radio 5 in Arusha interviews high school students at a recording of Positive Mood.

An energetic group of students share their opinions, debate issues and perform songs at a re-cording of Positive Mood, a youth mental health program airing on Radio 5 in Arusha, Tanzania.

Positive Mood is a weekly half-hour radio show that has been broadcast by Radio 5 since January, with support from FRI as part of the “Integrated Mental Health” project.

The program features a five minute serial drama, followed by discussion from youth on the air. One week’s episode focused on the role of local healers in addressing mental health issues. Youth discussed when to consult local healers, and when it might be necessary to seek advice from health care workers trained in diagnosing mental illness.

Etton James, 16, was one of the teenagers at the recording. He said he knew little about mental health before listening to the program, but explained that it has helped him understand some of the causes of mental illness and how to approach it.

On this week’s topic, Etton said he thinks it’s important to discuss the problem before deciding how to handle it, whether through a religious healer or a health care worker.

“In my opinion, I think you should first sit down and try to interview the person who is having such an illness,” he said. “If it’s out of your reach, then you can seek maybe for help.”

With the repeated mantra, “Positive mood, relax,” Positive Mood reminds youth to make their mental wellness a priority.

Mental health is not a well understood concept in Tanzania, often overshadowed by health issues like malnutrition.

The program aims to raise awareness and break down stigma by sharing good advice to young people, as well as their parents and teachers, in an entertaining and engaging way.

Francis, another boy at the recording, said that though this is his first time listening to the pro-gram, he intends to keep tuning in.

“It’s cool, I think I will start to listen to it starting from today.”

The “Integrated Mental Health” project is engaging youth over the airwaves and through school-based listening clubs in both Tanzania and Malawi.

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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