An academic initiative to promote mental health at the American University in Cairo

“At the university, we have mechanisms in place to support our community of professors and students on issues related to mental health, but more needs to be done.”

Ahmed Dalali President of the American University in Cairo.

The initiative will take effect from next year, through a team selected by the university. This team will be responsible for assessing the current campus environment and making recommendations on how to ensure campus culture destigmatizes mental health issues and promotes and supports the mental health and well-being of all members of the community.

room to “blow”

Hania El Shalkami, a professor at the Center for Social Research at American University in Cairo, is one of the teams whose duties include making recommendations on how to set up a system of psychological services and respond to stress at the university. . In a telephone conversation with Al-Fanar Media, she says that the change we have seen in our public lives in recent years has increased the area of ​​psychological stress and made us more vulnerable to accidents and illnesses as a result of pressure, explaining that “heavy” exposure to social networking sites and public space has had major effects on our psyche, regardless of social or physical background.

Earlier this month, Al-Shalkami led a workshop within the university, to gauge the views of participants, professors and students, on providing a platform for the university community aimed at sharing experiences and ideas to improve mental health within and outside the university campus. She adds that the psychological burden has become a collective problem, affecting both students and professors.

She also points to the emergence of new symptoms of these psychological burdens, such as acuity, anxiety and distraction from everyday pressures, stressing that the university realized that ignoring this issue would make the consequences “very difficult”. and would reflect on academic achievement, and could turn into a mental illness, as she put it.

The Egyptian Academy proposes an online platform for university students to share their personal problems and get advice, and see it as a space to ‘disclose’.

The initiative is planned to work on three axes: changing the culture of the university in the field of mental health, through campaigns to destigmatize mental illness, raising awareness and programs, the level of mental health in college, improve policies and protocols, and provide mental health training.

Al-Shalkami says the campaign needs to be multi-element across its psychological, athletic, sexual and emotional dimensions so that these elements share a vision and purpose about awareness of the nature of mental health, and the privacy associated with it. , the confidentiality of mental health information, and the wait time to obtain On services, and the stigma associated with mental illness in and outside the classroom. It also explains that the campaign is an effort to create an environment conducive to mental health in college, and to make a “major shift” in managing psychological stress from “individual” cases to designing a good mental health environment that meets the needs of all for the purpose of protection and prevention.

Taking into account economic and social inequalities

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