What is your education background and year of study?
I recently completed my Bachelor of Arts, Honours Specialization in Media, Information and Technoculture, with a Minor in Sociology, and will be graduating this June.
Why did you pursue this opportunity with the Global MINDS Summer Institute? What about this international development project caught your attention?
The Global MINDS Summer Institute caught my attention because it allowed me to be a part of a project that went beyond the typical week-long volunteering opportunity. While the Summer Institute was only two weeks, we were able to develop solutions and continue implementing them over a longer period of time which is something that is very important to me. I also really liked the idea of working with our partners in Kenya to develop quality and culture-based solutions.
What experiences (professional or personal) do you have related to working with mental health that you believe assisted you in your time spent with the Global MINDS Summer Institute?
I have personally seen the effects of mental illness on the lives of young adults. While I did not have any professional experience working in mental health prior to the Summer Institute, it has always been an important issue to me.
Why is mental health important to you? What intrigues you about it?
Mental health is important to me because it affects so many people. I believe it is crucial for people to recognize how prevalent mental illness is both in Canada and internationally. This is an issue that can no longer be ignored.
This project uses a transdisciplinary approach to mental health and brings together students from a wide-range of academic specialities and backgrounds. What lessons/insight do you feel that you learned from the other Western University students participating in the Global MINDS Summer Institute?
I learned so much from the other students participating in Global MINDS. Specifically, I was able to learn about the multiple approaches used in the recovery process for mental illness. I also learned how beneficial multiple perspectives are in creating positive and impactful change.
Reflecting on your experience with the Global MINDS Summer Institute, what is the greatest thing you believe you accomplished while in Kenya?
I think the greatest thing I accomplished while in Kenya was our final pitch project. My team was able to develop a sustainability and scalability plan in just two weeks with the help of people experiencing mental illness. The input from people with lived experience was crucial in determining the correct approach to address our complex challenge question.
What is the most exciting activity/event you completed with the Global MINDS Summer institute?
The most exciting event at the Global MINDS Summer Institute was the final pitch event. We were able to present our final project in front of large community partners and the energy in the room was amazing.
Now that you are back home, what do you feel you learned? Was there anything you encountered that you weren’t expecting?
I have learned so much from this experience. I learned how wicked the burden of mental health is globally, and how it is even worse in low-middle income countries. I was also able to learn how powerful one voice can be in creating real change with few resources. The resilience of both people experiencing mental illness and people fighting to improve mental health standards in Kenya is truly inspiring.
How do you think this project will influence your “next steps”?
The Summer Institute has inspired me to make a change both professionally and academically. I am now looking at academic programs and career options that will allow me to create meaningful impact in the lives of marginalized groups.
How do you plan to use the information learned on this trip in your academic studies?
I plan to look at multiple perspectives and theories in my academic future to develop holistic understandings of certain issues.