Ghanaian student wins UN award

A Ghanaian student and youth advocate Gideon Tuffuor Amponsah has won an award at the United Nations Youth Assembly at the UN Headquarters in New York.

He entered a project entitled MY HEALTH MY WELLBEING as a non-profit social venture meant to engage young people to lead an anti-stigma campaign against people with mental health challenges.

In an interview with GBCONLINE (gbcghana.com), an elated Gideon stated that he was confronted with a dicey challenge as to what to choose as a project when he had the opportunity to make an entry.

“There were a number of challenges that competed for attention in the beginning but I had to settle on this because it was an area that is not often looked at when we talk about engaging with young people,” he stated.

Gideon, a member of the Children and Youth in Broadcasting (CYIB) CURIOUS MINDS but now pursuing further studies in the United States of America, had to fall on his experience with being engaged in media and community advocacy on the well-being of young people. After consulting with the Coordinator and other members he opted for this area.

Reflecting on how he finally settled on mental health he had this recollection. “I wrote down ten problems in Ghana I want to work on to create a social impact. I finally decided to submit a proposal for an in-school educational program to create awareness and to end the stigma surrounding mental health.

Growing up in Ghana, mental health meant a man walking around naked in the streets with filthy clothes.

However, in Ghana, a country of about 27 million people the World Health Organization records that 650,000 people suffer from severe mental disorders and 2,106,000 people suffer from a moderate to mild disorder.

The treatment gap is a 98% of the total population expected to have a mental disorder. But yet, the government invests less than 1% of the health budget into mental health.”

After three steps of the application process, Gideon made it to the semifinals that took place at the Youth Assembly. Ten people were chosen for the finals out of the 31 semifinalists.

Seven of this number was chosen to receive the Fellowship. The competition is organised by The Resolution Project, a global non-profit Fellowship fostering youth leadership through collaborative social entrepreneurship.

The Resolution Social Venture Challenge is a multi-step competition designed to inspire undergraduate students to propose impactful, socially-responsible projects that address pressing social issues around the world.

On his plans, Gideon is now planning to start his venture and he will engage with five Senior High Schools in Accra to start with. Together with other colleagues and coached by the Coordinator of CURIOUS MINDS, he will create Chapter Clubs and engage them to sustain the project that will be supported by the RESOLUTION PROJECT.

In addition, the Mental Health Authority and the Ghana Health Service will also be brought in to actively help the process as resource persons.

To help break the stigma further, members in the Chapter Clubs will also as much as possible volunteer with the Accra Psychiatric Hospital to help in how they relate with rehabilitated persons.

As part of the project too, Gideon says there will be active engagement with the Ghana Education Service to include mental health awareness in the school curriculum.

 

By: Kingsely Obeng Kyere