What Mental Health Awareness Looks Like For Girls in Kenya
People from all walks of life struggle with mental health challenges, but research indicates adolescent girls are particularly susceptible to feelings of sadness, loneliness, anxiety, and stress. This Mental Health Awareness Month, Global G.L.O.W. recognizes that now more than ever, young women need support and mentorship to best care for themselves and navigate the challenges they face in their communities.
New research from the CDC highlights a stark increase in teen girls in the U.S. who persistently felt hopeless or sad. Globally, 1 in 7 teen girls (aged 10-19) experience a mental disorder. Depression, anxiety and behavioral disorders are among the leading causes of illness among this age group. With many cases unreported, it’s impossible to know the true extent of just how many adolescent girls around the world are struggling in silence.
That’s where we come in. Global G.L.O.W programs are designed to equip girls in vulnerable communities worldwide with the Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) skills to express themselves and advocate for their needs while building healthy relationships with their peers.
“Our programs help young girls build structure in their lives and learn to handle their emotions effectively in a space where they feel safe,” says Global G.L.O.W. Program Officer Pallavi Gahlaut. “Our SEL curriculum paves the way for young girls to recognize their voice and practice their agency in everyday situations.”
Around the world, GLOW Club members are learning to understand and express their emotions, communicate effectively with their peers, seek out the support and guidance of local mentors, and, ultimately, pursue and achieve the life they dream of without limitations.
Our impact can best be summed up in the words of a GLOW Club member who recently spoke of what she learned throughout the program:
“In GLOW Club, I learned that I am worthy. Never in my life had I felt this. I used to be ashamed of myself for being a girl. Now, I am standing up for other women and girls like myself.”
GLOW Girls worldwide are improving their self-image, sense of community, and ability to care for their mental health, one activity at a time. For Mental Health Awareness Month, we’re shining the spotlight on GLOW Girls in Kenya. Here’s what they’ve been learning this year about mental health and wellness.
GLOW Girls in Kenya recently discussed how to be authentically themselves when others are often telling them who they should be. Club members drew two separate masks that represented “Who I Am vs. Who They Say I Should Be.” By discussing their unique qualities in a small-group session, club members learned that it’s OK to be different and challenge gendered expectations about what they can accomplish, and how to live out their values on a daily basis.
Mental health awareness is a lifelong journey. Our mentors in Kenya recently attended a health and wellness summit to better understand how to care for their own mental health and the mental health of their mentees and club members. Our programs are entirely mentor-driven, and wouldn’t be possible if mentors were unable to bring their best selves to the important work of advocating for young women in their communities. They discussed why self-care isn’t a luxury, but a necessity in fighting for gender equality.
Working As A Team
As a part of their lessons on Healthy Relationships, club members have been learning how to communicate effectively and respectfully with their peers. In a recent session on teamwork, club members in Kenya led a blindfolded club member across an obstacle course. By cooperating with their friends in a high-pressure situation, club members learned that working as a team and receiving input and advice from others is always better than trying to solve an issue on your own.
Writing The Story of Yourself
Club members in Kenya are also learning how to express themselves in writing. They recently worked with their mentors to write their own autobiographies, which allowed them to examine their values and how key moments in their life led them to become the people they are today. By analyzing their past experiences, building the habit of journaling, and sharing their personal life experiences with trusted peers and friends, they’re learning that sharing your story is an important part of healing and understanding who you are.
Global mental health data for adolescent girls may be troubling, but each day, GLOW Girls in Kenya, and around the world, are moving the needle forward in pursuit of a brighter future. As they learn to express themselves, ask for support, and develop strong relationships with peers and mentors, they’re building a culture of wellness and self-care.
This Mental Health Awareness Month, we hope you’ll learn from them and take action to care for your mental health and the health and wellness of girls in your community.
Global G.L.O.W. partners with community-based organizations in 30 countries to operate mentorship-driven programs for girls ages 10-18. Our SEL-based curriculum gives girls the tools to express themselves, advocate for their rights, and challenge the most critical barriers to achieving gender equality. Support our work at globalgirlsglow.org/donate.