Demand for mental health services surges in Liberia and Sierra Leone
World Bank

Stigma is killing us.

East Africa is no different. The level of unanswered prayers tie closely with the level of PTSD.

I recently watched a documentary on Ebola. I cried half way through not for the dead but for the living. I watched a little girl weep her eyes out when she found out her baby sister died. The doctors were surprised to even SEE that much emotion.

As a Somalia-American, I feel quite lucky to have migrated from Somalian at the tender age of six. This allowed me to develop empathy with respect to the unsympathetic African culture I belong to.

Most people regard Africa as a sad, pathetic, primitive and uncivilized continent.

They fail to realize that our tragedies have a far greater effect than death tolls. No, it has psychological death tolls. Mental health death tolls.

I spent a year trying to convince politicians, businesses and hospitals to help fight the mental health stigma in the US and it broke my heart everyday.

The truth is our stigma here in the US is a better stigma than that of Africa or any third world country for that matter; any Islamic country for that matter.

It is a better stigma because it is talked about. Yes, a lot of people do not believe in mental illness or trauma but you know what? There is an 800 number that is confidential they can call. There are ER departments in hospitals (that may cause thousands if you do not have insurance) you can walk into.

They may release you after a point but THEY WILL NOT DENY YOU.

That is a blessing. That is a luxury.

Personally, I think our mental health system in the U.S could use some work.

But our lack of mental health awareness in the African region is literally killing us. There are no statistics when everyone is a statistic.

Thank you for writing this. I apologize for the long response. The total disregard for mental health in African cultures, mine and others alike, and Islamic/middle eastern states, infuriates me.

Continue on with your work. There shall be relief.


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