How Prince Harry’s struggle with mental health has inspired Nigerian students

Last month, one of the highlights of Meghan Markle And Prince Harrytrip to Nigeria is Spend time at Lightway Academy, where they participated in a mental health summit focused on giving teens tools to help deal with their emotions. The summit is part of the couple’s philanthropic partnership with the GEANCO Foundation, a Los Angeles-based organization that supports education and medical care in the West African country. According to GEANCO CEO Afam Onyema, The Archewell Foundation’s ongoing partnership and support for mental health programming for Nigerian youth will continue into the future.

Onyema said Vanity fair that Harry gave a speech outlining some of his own mental health struggles and it had a tangible impact on the students. “He inspired those kids to open up and realize that it’s okay to not be okay,” he said. “They were very inspired by Harry and Megan. From the questions they asked about mental health, you could tell they were keen to learn more.”

Meghan and Harry first partnered with the organization in 2023, when They supported a program to distribute menstrual supplies and menstrual education to 2,500 girls in Nigeria. Late last year, Archewell approached Onyema with the idea of ​​a program that would expand previous support by adding a mental health component for all genders. With the help of a licensed psychiatrist and a team of psychologists, GEANCO created a two-day curriculum that focuses on mental health basics and applications them into the lives of adolescents.

Although the basis of the trip was to support injured veterans and promote Nigeria’s participation in the recent Invictus Games, the duke and duchess were still able to spend a day with the students at Lightway as they start the program. The pair gave speeches that touched on their own experiences along with some underlying ideas that were discussed, such as friendship and connection.

“Harry mentioned it in his talk: Did you see a friend in class looking down? Do you feel the person you’re playing with feels unwell? It’s about asking, Are you okay? Onyema explained. The curriculum then continues to unpack those topics with trained instructors. “The instructor will ask, ‘Have you ever felt stressed about a test, or stressed about a family or relationship situation? And what do you do about it?’”

Not every student will benefit from starting their seminar with a pep talk from some famous mental health advocate, but Meghan and Harry want to build something further. continues after their country visit. “They want to do a long-term program that will last for many years,” Onyema said. “We love that they are working together as partners. It’s not just about taking a photo or doing this once. They really want to dig in and make this an ongoing part of their work, an important part of their work.”

Onyema said students at Lightway Academy are still benefiting from the first summit. “The duke and duchess have definitely lit a spark that we’re happy to keep going. And even now, weeks after that summit, as we prepare for the rest of the [the lessons], kids are still asking questions and they are still challenging the status quo,” he added. “It’s great to be able to be part of that change and there’s so much more that needs to be done, much more at the government funding level. But in our small but impactful way, we are trying to make a difference.”


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