PROVIDING SAFE-SPACES FOR COMMUNITIES TO ALLEVIATE MENTAL HEALTH STRUGGLES & STRENGTHEN SOCIAL SUPPORTS

Mental health is a rarely discussed topic in Tanzania. Many of us struggle with mental health challenges but do not have a safe space to vent our innermost sufferings, increasing the burden one endures alone, most of the time leading to depression.

TEWWY has adapted an evidence-based and community led psychosocial interventions to lessen the burden of disability caused by mental, neurological, and substance use conditions. Starting June 16, 2021, Wisdom&Wellness Counselors, who are retired elderly women trained in WHO’s mental health Gap Action Program (mhGAP), officially started providing mental health services to residents of 15 communities within Local Government Authorities (LGAs) in Dar-es-Salaam region. Local communities (“mitaas”) are in the Municipal Councils; whereas, villages are in the District Councils. The communities and villages are the lowest levels of the government structure in Tanzania.

Why start in the local government at community level?

We launched TEWWY’s mental health intervention program in 15 communities across the municipal cities of Dar-es-Salaam, namely: Ilala, Kigamboni, Kinondoni, Temeke and Ubungo.  The underlying reason for starting at the community level is that people know each other well and it is culturally expected that problems facing an individual will meet the attention of the community in the grassroots.

In each of the 5 municipalities we provide services in 3 communities. The limited number of communities is due to the limited resources that TEWWY has for this project.

NoMunicipalitiesWards communities
1Ilala
Tabata
Tabata
Tabata Msimbazi
Tabata Magharibi
2KigamboniKigamboni
Somangila
Tuamoyo
Kizani
Mwera
3KinondoniKaweUkwamani
Mbezi Beach A
Mzimuni
4TemekeMbagalaMangaya
Kizinga
Mbagala
5UbungoUbungo Kibo
NHC
Kisiwani

Moving forward

Integrating mental health services into non-specialized health settings such as local government authority is crucial to ensuring healthy lives and promotes well-being for all at all ages, hence encouraging policy-change. Raising awareness minimizes stigmatization and discrimination and removes the risk of human rights violations towards people with Mental, Neurological & Substance Use (MNS) conditions. TEWWY plans to scale up its current project in Dar-es-Salaam to other regions in the country and implement a Mental Health Intervention Program in government and private schools in Tanzania. TEWWY’s Mental Health Intervention Programs aim to:

  • Deliver a range of psychosocial services to support individuals in underserved communities and key populations impacted by Mental, Neurological and Substance Use (MNS) conditions;
  • Change lives by giving the gift of elderly/grandmotherly wisdom and a shoulder to lean on to persons dealing with heterogeneous mental health challenges;
  • Raise awareness on mental health and MNS conditions in efforts of eliminating stigma and discrimination in communities;
  • Advocate for policy and system change which accord rights and benefits to individuals and underserved communities with MNS conditions
  • Promote mental health and wellbeing for all individuals through interpersonal counseling, psychoeducation, support (such as training, hospital/specialist referral etc) and strengthening social supports within the community

A multisectoral approach at the point of service delivery is vital for the assessment, diagnosis and management of Mental, Neurological, and Substance Use (MNS) conditions. We have proven success in implementation of TEWWY’s Mental Health Intervention Programs by closely collaborating with stakeholders. As TEWWY’s slogan goes, Together we are Strong, to Inspire and to Achieve


THE TONGUE IS THE ORNAMENT OF THE LIPS

Mary Kingu
Wisdom&Wellness Counselor

Ukwamani, Dar-es-Salaam

We as a community must be aware of the words that we cross our lips in communicating with each other. As words can have a negative or positive impact in family, community and various constitutions.

A SINKING MAN STRUGGLES HARD TO STAY AFLOAT

Christina Mande
Wisdom&Wellness Counselor

Kizinga, Dar-es-Salaam

Instead of making excuses upon failing to make your goals, examine the root cause of the derailment and address it head-on to get to the core of the problem to have hope to solve it.

DON’T SHUT THE DOORS TO YOUR HOME

Alfreda George
Wisdom&Wellness Counselor

Tuamoyo, Dar-es-Salaam

Extend the field and change your cooking pot when the family expands.

Swahili Wisdom

For newly married couple, welcoming extended family members from your spouse into your home brings blessings.

STRESS REGULATION … What Works for You?

Neema Tembele
Co-founder & Chief Operations Officer TEWWY

You know that feeling…? the feeling of your insides turning, like blood is boiling as it rushes to your extremities? Chest feels like it is physically crushing the heart beneath it, vision is blurry, forehead weighing you down, an additional 10lbs.

The physical experience my body is going through as I type these words is all too familiar now. Sometimes I have it handled great …. some deep focused breathing to help ground me, get me back to center. But as I’m struggling to find my center – try to take control of my breathing, reminding myself that I know what is happening, and I know why its happening …but the ringing in my head is not subsiding.

Feeling anxious for an extended period of time isn’t fun … it really helped catch a very deep breath by checking off some tasks on my daily planner where I set some very attainable goals – and I can promise if I hadn’t written it down to check it off, I might have allowed my anxiety to take control of my life again. To allow myself to go through the whole day without feeling accomplished.

I use Trello to manage my projects and to manage my time. if you haven’t used a project management tool, I strongly advise you look into it. Highly increases efficiency – and apparently manages anxiety as well.

And writing, having this space to share this … thank you for this very deep breath I just took. Until then …

A BIRD IN HAND IS WORTH TEN IN THE BUSH

Rustica Tembele
Founder & CEO – TEWWY

One should appreciate and value what he/she has no matter how small it is, because that is what belongs to her/him, it is rightfully hers/his and it is worth all that you do not have. What you do not have is worthless and meaningless/useless for you because it is not under your ownership and hence you cannot control it.

LONG ROUTE LEADS TO LONG LIFE

Caroline Swai
Wisdom&Wellness Supervisor

Kigamboni, Kinondoni & Ubungo, Dar-es-Salaam

This is a caution from alders to everyone, especially the youth – to remind us all that shortcuts are dangerous. Therefore, we should be extra careful before we decide, otherwise we will end up the losers.

%d bloggers like this: