Shamiri institute has recently announced the raising of $1 Million from the Templeton World Charity Foundation. The institute says the funds will be used to tackle the ‘scourge of mental health in Kenya and the rest of the African continent’.
The funding, the institute says, will enable them to build strategies for promulgating their character-based data-driven interventions to African youth and to scrutinise the long-term health objectives and outcomes of these interventions.
Shamiri Institute was founded by Anzisha Prize Fellow Tom Osborn and partner Katherine Venturo-Coberly in 2018. It is using social research data to respond to mental health issues amongst the youth and has been conceptualising and implementing strategies to mitigate the crisis with the core objective of creating a better future.
In Kenya, mental health is a growing challenge. According to Shamiri institute, there’s a very high rate of depression amongst the youth with one out of four people looking for medical care in the country having a mental health condition.
The institute says depression in the country is common and many people depend on alcohol and substances to escape, which further exacerbate the crisis. And, while the country has not necessarily allocated a budget to tackle the issue, it has set up a mental health task force that is working on a number of reforms to improve the country’s response to the challenge.
According to the UN, almost 60% of Africa’s population is under the age of 25, making Africa the world’s youngest continent. And with about 6 – 8% of youth diagnosed with depression, the continent struggles with poor mental health literacy, the stigma around mental health issues, and weak healthcare systems.
Global mental health crisis accounts for 45% of the burden of disease amongst the youth. And in Africa, with some of the highest youth unemployment rates and the lowest levels of healthcare quality, the crisis is much worse.
Shamiri’s CEO comments:
Having experienced the problem of mental health himself while studying at Harvard, Osborn, CEO and Co-founder, says he knew firsthand that African youth bore the brunt of the crisis: “Mental health problems prevent many young people from leading successful lives. I have experienced it. And growing up in rural Kenya where the only possible route towards success was through education, I understood that economic issues such as poverty and lack of resources can contribute to mental health issues such as depression.”
“This crisis has informed our work in recent years. We asked ourselves what opportunities exist within the problem, massive as it is. The support from Templeton will help us extend our interventions to other African countries beyond Kenya. And through this process, we also want to actively begin measuring our impact in improving mental wellbeing amongst young people”, adds Osborn.
“We are happy about this new chapter and we look forward to helping more young people deal with mental health issues. Shamiri’s potential for impact is massive,” says Osborn, in closing.