Run for the Horn Aims to Raise Awareness about Mental Health in Ottawa While Raising Funds to Support Those Coping with Mental Illness in SomaliaWritten by Muslim Link
On Saturday, August 20th, community members are encouraged to attend the Run for the Horn Marathon and BBQ at Britannia Beach to raise awareness about mental health issues in Ottawa and to raise funds to support the Habeeb Mental Health Foundation in Mogadishu, Somalia.
Muslim Link interviewed the team behind this event.
1. When did it first come to your attention that the narrative around mental health in the Somali community had to be changed?
In the summer of 2015, two of the members of our team went back home to Somalia to visit family. To their surprise, they witnessed first-hand how people who suffer from mental illness were treated. They were able to see the lack of resources to treat the growing number of mentally ill individuals in the country. Many of them suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) which is normal in the after math of a civil war. Unfortunately, many families do not have the means to send their loved ones to mental health facilities. Because of this lack of access, you will find many seriously mentally ill individuals who are chained to a post because their families don’t know how else to manage their behaviour. There also exists a lack of resources in mental health facilities since they are treating so many patients. There is a lack of human resources, hospital beds and medication.
Once the members returned home, they decided to make a change and try to help the Somali community locally and in Somalia as much as they could. That is how Run for The Horn started.
2. How did your team come together?
The initial team was a group of friends who shared a common need to make a change within their own community. Some of the team members joined once we presented the event at the "Save Our Somali Youth" conference in April 2016. It was only after that event that the core team members were formed. We all share one common goal and that is to change the narrative on mental illness' in the Somali community and raise as much money to help mental health facilities prosper in the Horn of Africa.
3. What does your event have to offer for children, youth, and adults?
Run for the Horn has a lot to offer to all of the age groups. There is a mix of fun, food and education. We are creating a safe space to have a serious discussion about mental illness in our communities. For adults, it will give them a safe space to discuss traumatic experiences from their past and learn strategies to cope with them and figure out where they can go to seek help locally. For our youth, we will be able to learn from them and see what the current gaps in community services are and attempt to offer them our support. Many youth suffer themselves from chronic anxiety, depression, etc. Run for the Horn will offer them a safe space to discuss their issues and deconstruct the current stigma around mental illness. All in all, we aim to learn from our event on how to offer the right support to the local community.
If you are unable to attend the event but would still like to donate to the cause, Human Concern International has set up a page for Run for the Horn which you can donate online to here.
To learn more about the Run for the Horn Event on Saturday August 20th visit here
To learn more about the Habeeb Mental Health Foundation visit here
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