Hear celebs’ real-life stories at #NOTALONE forum

Muscat, Sept 16 – A forum called #NOTALONE Stories will see celebrity speakers from the Arab region and beyond on October 5 and 6 at Kempinski Hotel, Muscat. The speakers will share real-life experiences on mental health topics such as stress, anxiety, depression, loss, survival, bullying, domestic violence and more. This is the fifth year of #NOTALONE initiative, taken up by HH Sayyida Basma al Said, psychologist and founder of Whispers of Serenity. The campaign and campaigners in the previous years have travelled across the country.
The revenue from half of the ticket sales for the event will go to Oman Association for the Disabled, while the remaining half will be used for developing an app designed to fight child abuse.
“The app will help children protect themselves from abuse,” said Sayyida Basma.
The sessions will see speakers covering 12 different topics. “Speakers we have chosen are not because of their name or fame, but it is because they are dedicated to openly sharing their stories to help others,” said Sayyida Basma.
“It takes a bold person to talk about one’s mental health issue. Talking about your dark days needs strength. There is also going to be music and poetry, keynote speakers and panelists.”
“Being a clinician and working with addicts, I have noticed how stories of inspiration have changed some lives. But with Not Alone Forum, we are not just talking about addiction, but all subjects of mental health in all age groups,” said Dr Amira al Raidan, Head of Mental Health, Director of Health Education and Awareness Programmes, Ministry of Health.
The mental health of children is often overlooked, according to HH Sayyida Dr Taghreed al Said, Assistant Professor, Department of Psychology, College of Education, Sultan Qaboos University.
“We had specifically reached out to schoolchildren with a campaign on bullying and we were amazed to note that some of the children were well-informed about it and some of them had very good information from which we benefited,” said Sayyida Dr Taghreed, who is also the founder of My Book and Me Nursery.
“Children go through anxieties, stress and depression just like adults and that is why early intervention is very important. Underestimating their problems and issues is not right. That is why we came up with App Ziad and Zaina to reach out to children in a very simple way.”
“Mental health is very important, but very little is spoken about it. Only in recent years is there more awareness because of some celebrities who have gone through a stage where they could not handle stress. We think this initiative is important and that is why we are here to support it,” said Carsten Wiegandt, General Manager, Kempinski Hotel, Muscat.

Lakshmi Kothaneth