Gambian Amputees Train in Mental Health Awareness and Peer Counselling

Bethany / Gambia, Project Update

In January ten members of the Gambian Amputee Association kick started the year by participating in a three day mental health awareness and peer counselling course. The course was designed by mental health professional Katie Taylor-Smith in collaboration with Legs4Africa and UK aid specifically for the group, who delivered the content alongside amputee advocate Alieu Tourey – a social work and counselling trainee.

Trainee Tako Saho exploring mindfulness colouring as one of the mental health positive strategies covered in a three day Mental Health Awareness and Peer Counselling course delivered at the start of the year

Katie specialises in post-trauma psychology and the course pays specific attention to how someone with the lived experience of trauma can develop positive coping strategies and go on to use their personal journey to inspire others, particularly those who have lived similar traumas. Alieu was drafted in to advise on cultural context, add his professional insight as a police officer and social work trainee. Alieu was also able to translate and embellish the course material with local, relative content.

Graduate Emily Njie with Course leaders Katie Taylor-Smith and Alieu Tourey

Over the three days, six women and four men looked at ways to maintain good physical health, the link between good physical and mental health, the importance of lived experience, managing positive and negative thoughts, and peer counselling techniques. 

The importance of support networks plays a significant role in good mental health and as well as training the three day course offered trainees a great change to get together socially. Ebrima and Fatou (above) proving how great mates can make you feel

During a feedback workshop attendees spoke about their hopes to extend their counselling techniques to not only their amputee peers but in a wider sphere. They praised the course leaders on their willingness to share personal stories highlighting how they could there own to build connections in their communities. Tako Saho, a kind and gentle lady who has dedicated her life to caring for her family and community as nursery teacher, said the knowledge from the course provides an additional layer of  understanding others helping to encourage kindness and emotional intuition.

Mikailu Sekka accepting his certificate from Katie at the certification ceremony

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