Story by Amy Palmer | Photo by Sharmarke Ismail
It was a double celebration at the Maan AGM this September as they not only marked their 25th anniversary but launched their newly commissioned service direction.
Maan is the Somali mental health project and Somalians and other guests filled Verdon Street Recreation Centre to hear speeches, share ideas, and share a generous lunch. Opening speeches reflected on the success of keeping a charitable organisation going for 25 years despite funding challenges. Key individuals who made this happen were thanked and remembered.
Maan’s new direction will be to provide a bridge between the Somali community and health services by educating health workers about the needs and circumstances around mental illness in the Somali community. Maan will also provide assistance to people wanting to access support, and also to work within the Somali community itself to build awareness of conditions and services, and to reduce stigma.
Stigma was identified and widely admitted to be a key barrier to accessing support. Abdi Riyale told us:
“In Somalia there used to be stigma around tuberculosis and mental health, but tuberculosis stigma is no longer”.
He sees this as a good example for them to follow. He also emphasised the current lack of mental health awareness among the majority of the Somalian community. He said:
“In Somalia we don’t have the words ‘stress’ and ‘depression’, you are just ‘mad’ or ‘not mad’”.
Congratulations to Maan on their achievements over the past 25 years and good luck for the new service direction.
Maan is currently seeking more trustees from the Somalian community, if you would like to know more please contact Maan team at email@example.com
And if you have concerns around mental illness and would like help in accessing services please contact Sharmarke Ismail on 0114 275 8556.