Mentalhealth Champion Monday - Meet Samoina Wangui, founder of PPDKenya

December 10, 2018








Our first cohort finished their official time at the Academy this October. We started highlighting their journeys at the Academy through  on our #MCM - Mentalhealth Champion Mondays Series. For our first feature, last month, we featured Sarah Namegabe, founder of Akili Health Care in DR Congo. Today we feature Samoina Wangui from Kenya, founder of PPDKenya.



TMHA::: Tell us a little about yourself
Samoina:::My name is Samoina Wangui, mom of one, maternal mental health advocate and founder Postpartum Depression Kenya. I am a biochemist by profession, and while this is no longer what I pursue, I find it interesting how certain aspects of my course are relevant to my understanding of mental illnesses.

TMHA:::Why did you want to work in the mental health space?Samoina::: My journey to motherhood wasn’t an easy one. I got my son in my early 20s, at a time when I felt unprepared for the emotional rollercoaster that followed.

I had antenatal depression (depression during pregnancy) which, looking back, was unrecognized and which subsequently led to my Postpartum depression (PPD) after delivery. I remember not knowing why I experienced bouts of rage, why I felt so hopeless in my motherhood journey and why I could not bond with my son – where was the magic in the motherhood journey?

One morning, in a fit of rage, I slapped my then 5-month old son and that is the day I knew I needed help because I was not okay.

I started to find out more information about what I was experiencing and later learnt it was Postpartum Depression (PPD). I looked around for support groups and information locally but that was hard to come by. A friend pointed me to get therapy, which I did, and when I recovered, I started PPDKenya to provide support for moms with PPD as well as to create awareness on maternal mental health.
TMHA::: How did you hear about the academy and what drew it to you?Samoina::: I had been following Sitawa’s work in the mental health field when she ‘My mind my funk’ was in existence, and so when the academy launched I saw it on the social media pages and was interested in it. I wanted to learn more about the mental health landscape in Kenya, and how that would help shape some of the projects for PPDKenya

TMHA::: Watch a 10s clip of Samoina sharing how she liked the Academy's accelerator

  


TMHA:::What was your idea when you joined the academy?
Samoina:::(I wanted) To start a regular tweetchat for two main reasons: to help raise awareness on maternal mental illness as well as to help moms who reach out for help as a result of the chats.


TMHA:::
Tell us more about your idea - the one you worked on at the academy, what is it about and how long has it been running

Samoina::: The tweetchats are part of the organization’s mission to raise awareness on maternal mental health, as well as to connect moms and dads who reach out to professional help.

We currently run bimonthly tweetchats on our twitter page.

We started six months ago and the feedback has been amazing as we are slowly getting word out on maternal mental health and why it matters.





TMHA:::
Tell us about your prototyping process - moving it from the accelerator to an actual product
Samoina:::It was scary because I had never been engaged on social media in that capacity, but it is always heartwarming to get people refer moms to us, have them tag us in conversations on maternal mental health and even start going for psychiatric sessions after we share with them information and where to go next. This has also enabled us to run the pilot Whatsapp support group for moms with PPD.
TMHA:::What part/role did the academy and the sessions you have attended so far play/help in during the planning and execution of your idea and program? Samoina:::The knowledge to start exactly where I am at, with the Most Viable Product (MVP) and to go in boldly – because conversations on mental health are timely and much needed in Kenya.

TMHA:::Any tips for people thinking of prototyping their projects and still not sure? Samoina::: Learn on the go, be willing to modify as you go.


TMHA:::What do we expect to see from you? Samoina::: We look forward to hosting a couple of events that center on maternal mental health, and to create safe spaces for affected moms and dads to share their experiences. TMHA:::What can you say are your best moments at the academy Samoina:::It was definitely getting a holistic view of the mental health space in Kenya, meeting great minds doing fantastic things too. The check-ins also kept me on toes because I knew I had to be accountable, and this has been an incredible tool altogether. TMHA::: Last words... Samoina::: It is encouraging to see more people speak up about mental health, share their experiences, own their spaces and ultimately give a  voice to those who may not be able to speak out.
You can reach Samoina on the details on the picture below - also tune into her tweetchats.


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