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.
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.
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.
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.