Kinnaird student Maryam Mahil is working wonders by creating mental health awareness for people from underprivileged communities.
Maryam Malhi, a Kinnaird student, runs her initiative, Mental Education and Care Association (MECA) in which she conducts baithak sessions for people from underprivileged communities.
Studying Psychology as her major, she realized the importance of mental health and how everyone considers it as either a taboo or an “elitist” problem, neither of which is, or should be the case.
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By the Grace of God, efforts of our fellow team members, supporters and sheer determination we have finally initiated the sequence of our much awaited child sexual abuse awareness workshops for the underprivileged community. Team MECA has finally taken an initiative to educate young children and their parents regarding child sexual abuse, starting with young girls. Alhamdullilah we were not only able to convey our message to them, but were also able to encourage them to share their stories with us. A special thanks to our esteemed guest, Ma'am Ayesha Suleman for her uplifting words and her precious time. This baithak wouldn't have been possible without you!! Kudos to all our team members for taking this much needed step. We will only grow stronger and firm, since its about time to speak up and more over “Listen” 🕊 #meca #speakup #baithak #stopchildabuse #mentalhealth #itstime #itstimetospeakup #nowornever #workshop #listen #listenforchange
The organization conducts baithak sessions at schools, orphanages, and vocational centers. In this ‘sit-down and talk’ session, team MECA talks to the participants about social issues, including parenting, addiction, and child abuse.
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Allhamdulillah by the efforts of our fellow team members and supporters we have finally initiated another segment in sequence the much awaited “Baithak” session. Our first topic "Bachon Ki Muassar Tarbiyat Mein Wallidaain ka Kirdaar" was just the tip of the iceberg. This workshop wouldn't have been possible without our brilliant and hard working team !! The attendees seemed so happy and were very eager to attend our session ! They even discussed all the challenges they face in the brought up of their children and so our next baithak will be with their children ! Kudos to you all who have sent in such a positive feedback for our Baithak and made the session a resounding success, its you guys with whom this campaign of ours to curb the stigma around Mental illness will truly be a triumph. We will only grow stronger and firm 🕊 #meca #speakup #makethisyearcount #mentalhealth #itstime #itstimetospeakup #nowornever #baithak #listen #underserved #nowornever #listenforchange
In an exclusive interview with MangoBaaz, Maryam opened up about her work:
”MECA has been my dream for too long. Given the recent suicide rates in Pakistan, it wasn’t possible for me to [not act anymore]. With a group of fellow students and expert psychologists on board, MECA was established in 2018.”
Talking about the need to educate these communities, she stated:
”Many organizations are working on mental health awareness in Pakistan. But not many target the deprived communities who don’t even realize what they are going through. Subsequently, MECA took the initiative and visited different villages to educate people about mental health. On a lighter note, MECA also conducts self-esteem activities in children.”
In a session conducted on the topic of sexual abuse amongst children, MECA was alarmed to discover that a whopping 40 out of 45 girls had suffered abuse at some point in their lives.
After the awareness session, MECA encouraged the girls to speak up with the expert personally. The girls – who were between the ages of 8 and 10 years – had some very disturbing experiences to share. So, MECA immediately informed the school authorities and contacted their mothers. Such cases are then handled by psychologists as well.
Speaking about the impact of the initiative on this community, Maryam stated how MECA has achieved something huge.
“They realize the importance of mental health and its consequences. Their conversations elicit a visible difference. And that is the success of MECA.”
When we talk about raising awareness around mental health for underprivileged communities, an argument that arises is that if they can’t afford three meals a day, what good is it to teach them about mental health? Is it really a priority?
”MECA surely cannot eradicate poverty or solve their financial problems,” Maryam explains, “but what we can do is to help them cope with the crisis. As they are a victim of a number of problems, their mental health is just as vulnerable and that is why we are there for them.”
In addition to baithaks, MECA also conducts breathing lounges and provides free of cost help to any individual contacting them. You can contact MECA here.
Given how Pakistan treats mental health as a taboo topic, it is wonderful to see individuals getting up and playing a positive role in the community. Individuals like these should not only be applauded but also supported in every way.
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Cover image via @maryammalhi via Instagram / @mecapk via Instagram