The AIM TeaM Energy Center for Bridging Leadership (TEC-BL) supports Nidah Macatoon in her efforts to advocate for mental health education in Marawi by raising awareness on the importance of mental health, disaster preparedness, stress management, and coping mechanisms through Mental Health for Marawi (MHarawi), her change project in the Future Bridging Leaders Program (FBLP).
The Marawi Siege of 2017 brought about more awareness about the need to address mental health issues due to trauma from conflict, especially for the youth. To address these, Nidah and her team work to provide culturally-sensitive mental health information to Meranaws, improve the resiliency of Marawi Siege survivors through peer counseling, and increase the openness of youth to seek necessary mental health assistance in the Marawi area.
Her project creates an inclusive community of young Meranaws who provide comfort and peer support to those who experience difficulties in coping, dealing with trauma, and managing stress. Her project also trains local youth volunteers to be peer facilitators, educators, and counselors who integrate Islamic concepts with mental health strategies to contextualize mental health services for the Muslim youth.
Together with her team, Nidah has been able to introduce the concept of mental health and resiliency to more than 1,000 youth leaders and out-of-school youth (OSY) in Marawi City. In conjunction with her mental health project, she opened Cup of Hope Cafe in September 2020, which serves as a safe space where Meranaw youth meet with trained peer counselors to discuss stress management, adjustment, and other mental health issues. The United States Agency International Development (USAID) and Plan International, through the Marawi Response Project, supported the Café and provided them a coffee machinery set as an in-kind grant last October.
Nidah continues to iterate her mental health project to cater to more youth in the Marawi area through FBLP. She is currently improving not only the scope and reach of her project but also the depth of service she offers through linkages with the government, the academe, and other stakeholders.
She believes that through her project, she encourages more youth to speak up about mental health issues. She also hopes that by focusing on mental health, more Muslims will be mobilized to become mental health professionals so that mental health care can be contextualized within the Muslim Mindanao experience, taking into consideration the cultural and religious beliefs of the region.
Get to meet Nidah and other fellows at the FBLP 3 Online Public Recital happening this November to know more about their exciting change projects.
For more details or inquiries about Bridging Leadership and the next FBLP cohort, you may contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.