A group of young authors have come on board to play a part in raising awareness of mental health illnesses through a new book, The Tales of a Healing Heart. The book that is co-authored by three poets, Alice Ghislaine Musabe, 24, Muqtar Inkindi, 23, and Lumen Constance Hirwa, 20, was stirred by the comprehension that mental health issues have been exponentially escalating among the youth. The book can be worthwhile for people struggling with mental health, who feel lonely, experience relationship difficulties, are emotionally overloaded, and with low self-esteem. “This book is for anyone who struggles with disorders like anxiety or depression or Obsessive Compulsive Disorder-OCD, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder-PTSD or trauma. It is a poetry collection that shares a raw and vulnerable journey from struggles to healing,” explains Musabe, one of the authors. The authors highlight that mental health disorders are real, and no one deserves to pass through them alone, which is why the book is a reminder that the conditions can be treated, and one can recover. The youngsters were compelled to write the book to combat illiteracy and the stigma around mental health that makes it hard to heal. According to the writers, the book aims to convince young people that mental health illnesses are not a weakness, and let them know that it’s okay to be vulnerable and share their stories. “The reason we chose to share our message in a book format is that we believe that books store knowledge for a long time. Our book can’t be read and completed in one sitting, it is a daily reminder and journal of testimonies to accompany the reader on their own mental health journey. In order to enable youth to have access to mental health information, the authors have started visiting various high schools in diverse provinces of the country, inspiring them to create mental health clubs. The writers also work with schools that already have clubs. For now, they target high schools in their grassroots campaign. “We envision that high school students are in the critical age of growth and self-awareness, being exposed to mental health information would improve their today’s lives and ensure better-coping skills in their future,” Musabe states. The clubs’ purpose is to create a place of compassion, storytelling, advocacy, support system, learning about mental health, and healing for anyone dealing with mental health illness as well as being a channel for wellness in their whole schools. The authors act as mentors and allow learners to take lead in the function of the clubs at their respective schools. The writers offer students 10 to 15 free copies to each club or school library as learning material to guide them in their day-to-day operations. ALSO READ: New initiative to curb mental health challenges in schools “We appreciate all high school principals that have believed in our initiative and allowed us to visit and establish the clubs at their schools. We have so far visited Ecole de Science Byimana, ENDP Karubanda, Collège Saint André, TTC Mururu, Ecole St Joseph Nyamasheke, G.S. St Famille, and G.S. Kabusunzu, and hope to reach more schools. The youngsters anticipate expanding their project and ensuring that each club grows stronger and becomes self-reliant. But also, extend to universities, and perhaps collaborate with mental health professionals in Rwanda to establish partnerships aimed at curbing stigma through therapy. The Tales of a Healing Heart is divided into three parts, for instance, part one is also known as ‘The Tales’ explores the mental health struggles triggered by relationships with our families, friends, and partners. It also tackles issues of inter-generational gap and the trauma passed down generations as a result of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi. Part two, ‘Broken Heart’ explores various mental health disorders and emotional problems, how they manifest in different individuals, and the pain and battle of facing those issues. It also explores the stigma and false information around mental health. The last part, ‘Healing’ is a session of conquering, hope, and joy. It provides tips, resources, and testimonies of how one can walk towards healing from mental health issues. It shows the power of sharing one’s mental health story and healing with the help of a supportive system. All the poems are in both English and French to reach many youths. Copies of the book can be accessed at high schools with mental health hubs for free, while the hard copies are available at Ikirezi bookstore at Rwf8,000, and the softcopies at amazon at five dollars which is Rwf5,500.