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Addressing Youth Mental Health Within African Immigrant Communities

From a young age, I was able to recognize a gap between the parents of community, who had been raised in a different time and on a different continent, and their American born children. This breakdown of communication persisted as these children grew into teenagers and young adults. This resulted in more serious consequences which culminated in loss of one of its younger members, a bright young boy who had died by suicide, revealing the communities’ lack of preparedness for such a tragedy. Having heard similar about similar experiences from other African communities, I found that there seems to be a blind spot regarding mental health within African Immigrant Communities. The lack of communication between parents and their children seems to only exacerbate this issue. The goal of my research is to create a project which helps bring awareness to issues of mental health within these communities by sharing vital information regarding mental health and encouraging frequent communication between parents and their children. I intend to work closely with the organization, Women of Africa Alliance for Solutions, or WAAS to design a youth based program that addresses this very issue. This project is still in the research phase and I am continuing to work with WAAS on a design that best serves the communities to be served. The implications of this work will be directly related to how these communities handle issues of crisis like suicide, and how parents and children engage in conversation related to mental health.