Gelella Nebiyu

University of Denver - 2022

Creating awareness of mental health-related issues as well as suicide awareness in the African community.

Major: Economics and Political Science

Project: My Puksta Project has evolved from the more general desire to address mental health within African Communities to utilizing youth community engagement to bring awareness to mental health. Furthermore, I intend to use an artistic lens to discuss the topic of mental health by using it as a tool and mechanism for the youth within these African communities to better understand their needs and hopefully find a more meaningful way of meeting them. I hope to achieve this by first designing workshops that allow the members of these communities (with a particular focus on youth) to learn more about mental health as well as how to use art as an expressive outlet. My passion for art has intertwined with my passion for mental health and I hope to unite the two as one to offer my community and other African communities a new perspective on mental health and the power of art as an act of self-care and even self-discovery.

Inspiration: After having lost a friend and member of my community to suicide, I realized that the entire situation seemed almost foreign to a number of my friends and family. I want to create awareness within the African community of the reality and the seriousness of mental health as well as the services available that aid in preventing suicide.

Future Plans for Project: I would like to see more African communities open to conversations about mental health and utilizing the services provided that address it.