Africause’s third COVID-19 forum focused on the Young People in the community, and their varied experiences. The forum was moderated by Mariam Kolsay, a powerful advocate for the African community. Our speakers Lydia Tesema, Omar Abdu and Kinza Hubedin provided thought provoking, powerful and engaging conversation around topics such as friendship, social media and the ways in which mental health are viewed in the African Community.
All three young people spoke on the changes to online schooling this year, and the importance of maintaining friendships through a period where social isolation became an issue for many young people. An important and engaging conversation developed on the topic of mental health for young people in African communities, and the stigma and misunderstanding that is often placed on the topic. In a year where one’s own mental health is incredibly important, this conversation brought up many opportunities to continue the fight to promote positive mental health for young African Australians.
‘I actually jumped on the therapy bandwagon this year… I accepted that you know, first my biggest challenge was accepting that I am deserving of some mental support. I thought I wasn’t, before I applied I thought ‘maybe there is someone more deserving of this’, but then I thought no, you know, my mental health is my mental health, and it’s just as valid as the next persons…though to be honest I haven’t told my parents, I’m not hiding it from them, it’s just one of those things with African parents I just don’t know how to tell them!’
Africause was also lucky to be joined by Dr Daniela Say, a paediatric doctor working with The Waterwell Project to promote health education. Dr Say spoke on topics such as racism in health care, the future of the COVID-19 vaccine and the importance of wearing masks in our communities.
‘You’re voicing real concerns (about the vaccine), and you’re not the only community that is concerned… vaccines are so rigorously tested, they’re one of the safest medications you can get! Those people with the misconceptions and conspiracies and rumours, those people have the loudest voices, and they drown out the truth. It’s really important if you are looking for information, you get it from reliable sources.’