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Mental health is a serious matter that is, unfortunately, commonly labelled as a stigma or taboo by many Egyptians. To this day, a lot of people who are struggling with mental illness either feel ashamed to speak out or are just being misunderstood and not taken seriously. But amidst all of this, 18-year-old Mariam El Ansary decided it was time for change.

El Ansary started End the Stigma a few months ago in an attempt to raise awareness about mental health in Egypt, in the hope of putting an end to stigmatising the matter. The whole purpose of this heartful initiative is to educate people and show them that mental illness is nothing to be ashamed of, and is definitely not a taboo.

It all started when Mariam created a poll on her Facebook account, asking whether or not mental illness is being taken seriously in Egypt. To her surprise, 97% of the respondents said “No”. In addition to that, the mocking comments that flooded the thread afterwards pushed her to start this intiative.

The stress people live nowadays is a scary beast that can attack them every day and every minute,” Mariam told us. “People cause each other pain all the time, mock each other, and underestimate anything another person is going through, which sometimes leads to dreadful results, such as suicide.” 

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Under the supervision of the Egyptian Ministry of Health and the World Health Organization (WHO), a study carried out back in 2018, revealed that 1 out of 4 people (25%) showed symptoms of mental disorders. 

Throughout the past couple of years, the numbers might have changed. With the lack of awareness, many people out there might not even know they’re suffering from mental illnesses such as depression, anxiety, ADHD, bipolar disorder, and more. That’s why change must start from within. Besides educating oneself, we all need to be there for others and stay aware in case any of our loved ones show symptoms. And if you feel like you need help yourself, don’t hesitate to seek professional advice. 

With the recent stressful circumstances, a couple of months ago, the Ministry of Health announced a helpline for full psychological support for those who need it.