Turning the Frown Upside Down

Tuesday 10 October 2017

To mark World Mental Health Day on October 10th, Save the Children is supporting WHO’s awareness raising campaign about depression, with the theme #LetsTalk. Children often do go through periods of sadness, and children experiencing depression require more attention. To commemorate this day, Save the Children is emphasizing the importance of seeking help.

This is the story of Dina*, a 17-year-old Egyptian girl who was struggling with depression. “My parents got separated when I was 11 years old,” she said. “They were always fighting and they had a lot of problems. My mother played the role of both parents, because my father was always out with his friends. He barely works. I am the oldest one among my 4 siblings, of which one is a step-sister from my mother’s side.”

With her parents facing an impending divorce, Dina stayed for one year with her father who used to hit her, she skipped school to spend long hours crying alone in the street and lost weight due to a greatly reduced appetite. She soon sunk into a deep depression.

“My life changed when I started the sessions with the psychologist. He was able to help me with my problems. At the same time, he was able to improve the communication between me and my mother. The psychologist was able to explain to my mother what I was going through and how she could help me.”

With the help of Save the Children, Dina was able to receive both psychiatric and psychological help, slowly reducing the traumatic effects of her parent’s divorce.

“My mother is the most important person in my life; she is the one who has always supported me. I am in grade 9 now. I sometimes used to skip school because I wasn’t interested. But now I’m a lot more committed and I go every day. My mom even helps me with my homework sometimes. I like drawing. I will study hard to achieve my dream of becoming an interior designer.”

Azza*, Dina’s Mother:

Dina’s mother Azza was physically abused. Before getting divorced, her husband who was a drug addict used to hit her in front of their children. Seeing this happen at such a young age caused Dina to become aggressive according to her mother, paving the way for her depression as an adolescent. But that changed with Save the Children’s intervention.

“A huge change happened within Dina as a result of the sessions she attended with the psychologist provided by Save the Children,” Azza said. “Before coming to Save the Children, Dina used to cry a lot. She even attempted suicide a few times. She ran away from home several times and stayed with one of her friends. She wasn’t stable at all.”

“The psychologist at Save the Children has been able to build trust, respect and understanding between him and Dina. She is always eager to come to the sessions, is always keen on following up with the psychologist, and happily applies the knowledge gained from her sessions to improve her own life. Her case as a whole is improving.”

“Dina’s case has been improving. She has become more careful with herself and has started to react to things normally, becoming more socially engaged with fewer anger management issues,” said Wael, the psychologist assigned to help Dina reconnect with her mother by Save the Children. “Her cause of depression can be traced to the environment she grew up in and the fighting between her parents. They can’t deal with the problems that arise from her being an adolescent. This has caused a conflict inside her. But as her mother said, she is keen on keeping her positive behavior and attitude by putting her on the right track.”

Save the Children works in Egypt with dedication to support children tackling similar struggles and psychological challenges that Dina faced. By analyzing and restructuring their thoughts, feelings and behaviors associated with bad memories from family instability, the organization is able to dramatically improve the lives of children and their families across the world.


 *Names marked with a star have been changed to protect identities.