First 100 days of The Mental Health Academy

April 30, 2018

Hey hey beautiful people,

I did our first 100 days report last week and discovered some amazing things.

Download the fancy version of this whole post here

Before I share, let me take you back...way back...ok Septemberish last year way back. I had just spoken at the UN General Assembly in New York and I knew that was the last time I will be doing my work the way I used to. So I got back to Nairobi and had a few brainstorming and lot more what next anxieties moments. Eventually, the academy idea came through, which was not really new because it was a build up of a 13/14 week training program I had done in 2014 with youth living in Kenya’s largest slum - Kibera and spiced it up during my time studying for Social Innovation Certification. 

(Read this 3 part series titled ‘Sparking a mental health revolution in Africa through an Academy’ through which I share why we need a mental health revolution in Africa by painting a picture of the mental health scene in Africa in Part 1 - The Status Quo , showing how can spark a mental health revolution in Part 2 - How to do it  and talk about what I am doing to spark that revolution in my corner in Part 3 The Academy )

Fast forward to January 2018
The Academy took in its Class Zero (Pilot Cohort) on January 23rd, 2018 and since then we have trained 17 fellows representing 3 African countries and USA. The fellows have gone through accelerator programs either online or on site and gotten over 20 hours of check-ins and mentorship, gotten help in creating a paragraph that describes your venture and in designing work plans complete with timelines,invitations to industry events, linkages to resources as per their project needs and so much more.

Thanks to this Class Zero, I have been able to work out my curriculum, slightly reframe the program (in case you are wondering what this program is all about - check out our website ( rebranded from The Mental Health Academy to The Sitawa Wafula Mental Health Academy.

Speaking of branding, I got a scholarship from a branding for changemakers organization to learn how to be a trainer for branding for changemakers which will go along way in helping those who go through the program and the mental health landscape in Africa.

Still on the good news track, Amani Institute which develops professionals who create social impact ( endorsed the program - and the endorsement came with a lot of exciting things - and The Kijiji ( a coworking space on Daykio Plaza, Ngong Rd will be hosting the program.  

June 2018 call out

I prototyped an online class with the updated curriculum and it was amazing - the next class which starts in June will be 100% online...if you would like to be part of it, register here.

As much as I have seen ideas (and people) grow, I have also seen situations where the program looked like it lost its steam for some...I also saw some of the fellows (6/17) end their engagement at the academy after the accelerator phase due to ill health and other personal reasons.

Also being a one woman team doing the sessions, keeping up with the fellows, looking for opportunities and building partnerships plus personal issues was a challenge.


Despite the challenges, it has been an amazing experience and so far, 5 projects from our fellows are ready

1. Sarah from E. Congo launched her blog - (go follow, have your translator on because it's in French)

One of fellows is hosting an event

2. Njeri's event that provides a safe space for people in creative industry to speak about mental health  is happening on Thursday May 10th at Creatives Garage 
Update: Read about the event here; Naked Souls - A safe space for creatives to discuss mental health)

3. Winnie will be rolling out her class on inner journey for young adults in May (will definitely share soon)

4. Anita will be doing her shoot to explore the importance of therapy in May (will definitely share soon)
Update: See some behind the scenes pics here and here

5. Charity has some lessons from trying to prototype , she wants to work on test 2

The fellows (and general public) get additional material  via
- a dedicated resources site
- Life of a Mental Health Consultant YouTube Series through which i answer 2 questions on what it is like to work in the mental health space in Africa and give a peep into some things I have been up to from speaking at World Bank hosted meetings to opinion pieces writing, facilitating workshops 
- Bi monthly newsletter (which you can sign up for here)
- and recently opened social media pages on twitter and instagram

Next three months
As we go into the next three months, I will be concentrating on building more partnerships, getting a community manager to handle the resources site created to provide tools for the fellows and the social media pages as well as scheduling check ins with the fellows to know their needs and what sort of support we need to get them.

I am grateful to Dayo, Niyi, Carl and Filipos for listening to my initial plans, even before the first accelerator and for supporting the first Accelerator. 
I am grateful to Metta Nairobi for offering their space for three days on the house for us to do that first Accelerator...and of course to Juma for your role in this.
I am grateful to all the fellows who trusted the process and dived in with me from the word go.
I am grateful to those who stayed for the four weeks and due to personal reasons did not continue.
I am grateful to those who despite personal reasons (ill health among other things) still continue
I am grateful to those who have something to show
I am grateful that of all spaces, I was chosen for the mental health in Africa space...I cannot wait to see what else will come in the next months and years.
I am grateful to my siblings for helping with backend stuff.
I am grateful to Rosan and Kaitlin for sharing insights on running an accelerator and mentoring program...and for getting me ready for a lot work.

I know I cannot do it alone...this is beyond me and I am actively looking for partners and for those early on partners like Amani who endorsed the program and The Kijiji who would like us to prototype a mental health hub at their space, I am so humbled and honored.

I cannot forget the branding organization (i cannot say their name until the official announcements), for the scholarship. Stigma is one of the greatest things mental health in Africa faces and if my fellows can create ways of making their projects and innovations eye catching and draw more people to speak and take action...I will have done my work, so the branding organization i cannot mention until the announcements, thank you so so much.
Update -  Read official announcement here

If you read this and want to volunteer, partner, mentor, teach a class, help with putting the workbook together, bring the accelerator to your country, please comment below and I will get back to you. 

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