Published on 13th April 2017
Lauren Emanuel is volunteering for VSA as a Mental Health Programme Adviser with Te Meeria in Kiribati.
As part of Depression Awareness Week in Kiribati recently, Lauren organised through telecommunications company ATH Kiribati for two text blasts to be sent to Kiribati's mobile phone network of 150,000 which includes I-Kiribati living in Fiji.
The first text at the start of the week provided warning signs of depression and ways to respond, with the phone number for Kainikatikun Te Marurung (KTM) - the community mental health clinic. The second text was sent on World Health Day (7 April) and reinforced the theme Depression - let's talk, with hashtags #depression and #letstalk.
Word of Depression Awareness Week was spread throughout Kiribati via a Village Theatre Roadshow, where performance was used to deliver important messages through humour, dance and vignette.
Says Lauren: "The Roadshow was a big first in Kiribati and very effective. The theatre group performed and a woman spoke about her experience with depression and her recovery, which was very brave as there is a still a stigma associated with mental illness".
Over the course of the week, 16 villages received the World Health Organisation's (WHO) depression awareness message via the Roadshow.