‘Mental illness is nothing to be ashamed of but stigma and bias shame us all’- Bill Clinton

Individuals with good mental health are described as being in a state of well- being. Positive mental health includes emotion, cognition, and social functioning and coherence. (WHO: 2009). Mental illnesses present themselves in varies forms from anxiety to suicidal thought, affecting other aspects of life such as health, social life and work.

A psychiatrist is a doctor, as much as an endocrinologist is and their services are as accessible too. However, for a diabetic patient, it’s much easier to seek help compared to a mental illness patient. When we think about health we tend to separate mental and physical health, forgetting that mental health controls our physical health and vice versa. Anxiety is one well known mental illness. Innumerable people have been anxious for a few seconds at least once in their lives. It is associated with, increased heart rate, chest pain and restlessness. A continuous state of anxiety can lead to increased chances of acquiring various chronic physical illnesses such as heart attacks, diabetes and a weakened immune system; illnesses that can be prevented if the core, the mental illness is treated. Furthermore, according to data from the World Health Organization (WHO), depression is the leading cause of disability worldwide. Not only does a mental illness affect body but also affects various aspects of life such as the quality of work leading to economic losses.

For many years, people focused on genetics and neurotransmitters as being the major cause of mental illnesses, where this is true, recent studies have identified that the environment has a great impact on mental health. The general breakdown of causes of mental disorders is;

  • Biological; genetically inherited, brain defects or infection by certain bacteria or viruses
  • Psychological; emotional/ physical/ sexual abuse, trauma, family violence
  • Environmental; death of a loved one, substance abuse, romantic failures

Everyone experiences days where they are low or upset but a few surpass the fine line and develop a more serious mental illness. The normalization of some mental health disorders has desensitized us from it severity. ’I feel depressed’, ‘I just want to kill myself’- these are phrases we say or hear often when people are low or stressed. It has become so common that we can’t identify when people are actually suffering from the condition. Depression isn’t merely a feeling; it is a struggle. A fight every day to try and find reason for existence.

For several years there has been a negative attitude towards mental illnesses in some cultures and societies encouraging stigma towards those who are courageous enough to admit they have a mental illness. Despite one out of four people suffering from a mental illness, many remain undiagnosed due to the fear of discrimination and are unable to seek assistance despite there being many several professionals present. Sadly, it is still associated mental illness with curses, evil spirits and witchcraft in some societies. The ‘taboo’ is more prominent in African cultures. For so long mental health disorders such as anxiety and depression have been considered ‘white man’ diseases.

Patients who resist seeking attention from professionals tend to ‘self-medicate’ using other methods such as substance abuse and self-mutualisation. These mechanisms provide temporary relief from the uncomfortable symptoms but eventually place the user at risk of mental health illness. An area of the brain known as the hippocampus that is associated with emotion, stress control and long term memory gets impaired, making it that much harder for a patient to recover during treatment. On one hand people take drugs to escape depression, anxiety while on the other hand there are those taking drugs just for recreational purposes, therein resulting in self-inflicted mental health conditions. Patients with both a substance abuse problem and mental illness are said to have a co-occurring disorder.

In some cases, patients from low-middle income countries and regions, willing to seek assistance are unable to do so due to the lack of resources such as mental health services and human resources (psychiatrists, psychiatric nurses, psychologists, etc.). 800,000! That is the estimated number of people that commit suicide annually between the ages of 15-29 globally according to the WHO, rate being higher in men more than women. This is because women are more open to seeking help or discussing their issues with others compared to the men. Furthermore, having a combination of mental illnesses increases the likelihood of suicide attempts.

Mental health is the fundamental basis of a good healthy community and therefore deserves a significant amount of attention rather than prejudice. Everyone has a part to play in the mental health of family members, friends and communities health by being more mindful and attentive to them. As a society we should create an environment where an individual is comfortable enough to express their feelings preventing progression of their condition.

‘We need to be allowed to fall apart’ – Selena Gomez

Wanjiru Ndumu
Sunaina Bains


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Theme: Stop the cough: From the base to the ivory towers


In commemoration of the International Tuberculosis Day, March 24, 2018, FAMSA welcomes articles of medical students in member associations .

Can you suggest ways in which everyone can be involved in the pursuit of a world without TB? Families that are the units of each society to social, cultural, religious and political leaders as well as employers of labor; Is there a role for everyone to play so that we can effectively end tuberculosis?


We can not wait to hear from you! Please send your articles as .doc or docx files to by March 20, 2018.



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Call for blog articles.

Appel pour articles de blog.


Thème:Arrêter la toux


From the…

De la base aux tours d’ivoire


In commemoration…

En commémoration de La Journée Internationale de Tuberculose,le 24 Mars 2018, FAMSA accueille des articles d’étudiants en médecine dans les associations membre. Peux tu proposer des moyens dont tout le monde peut être impliqué dans la poursuite d’un monde sans la tuberculose?Des familles qui sont les unités des chaque sociéte aux leaders sociaux, culturels,religieux et politiques ainsi que les employeurs du travail; y at-il un rôle pour tout le monde à jouer pour que nous puissions effectivement mettre fin à tuberculose?


Nous avons hâte d’avoir tes nouvelles! Veillez envoyer vos articles sous forme de fichiers .doc ou docx à avant le 20 Mars 2018.

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AMR Week. Call for Articles


FEDERATION OF AFRICAN MEDICAL STUDENTS’ ASSOCIATIONS (FEDERATION DES ASSOCIATION DES ETUDIANTS EN MEDICINE) FAMSA is a Non-Governmental, Non Profit Oriented Organisation for all medical students in Africa to play a significant role in improvement of the health of the African people and the problems of African society.

This week is Antibiotics Awareness Week. This year’s theme for the A.A.W is Seek advice from a qualified Health Care Professional before taking antibiotics. Antibiotics are important in treatment of disease and so it is of paramount importance that we know when, why and how to use them.

We are therefore making a call to Medical Students interested in writing articles within the A.A.W theme for 2017.

If you are interested in the above theme and you would like to share your ideas with Africa and the World as a whole and publish on the FAMSA’s website – and FAMSA blog,

Please send us your full article on any topic of your choice under the above theme.

Deadline is 11:59pm GMT Friday, 18th November, 2017.

Incoming articles should adhere to the following specifications:

1⃣ Clearly defined brief topic

2⃣ Not more than 1,500 words

3⃣ Full details of writer including name, school, country and contacts.

4⃣ All articles should be sent to and

Change can only start from you and me. Let us not wait for others to act on our behalf.

FAMSA; Towards The Improvement Of Health In Africa.
Chairperson, SCOPUB, FAMSA 2017.

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The Standing Committee on Publications (SCOPUB) is responsible for all FAMSA publications including; Afromedica journal, FAMSA Newsletter, Introducing FAMSA and other related publications.

SCOPUB also assists member associations in publication problems and is responsible for establishing and keeping contacts of local medical student publications.

Membership is open to all members of FAMSA. The positions available are as follows:

  1. Design Directors:
Two (2)
-Assist the Chair of SCOPUB in the organization and commissioning of any art work needed in SCOPUB Publications.
  2. Copy Editors:
Two (2) 
- To assist the SCOPUB Chair in getting articles from interested writers for purposes of FAMSA Publications.
  3. Proof Readers:
Two (2) 
-To assist the SCOPUB Chair in checking all written material for spelling and grammar errors.

It is strongly encouraged that the team be composed of Medical Students from all the African Member States. This includes members from: Central Africa Region, West Africa Region, South Africa Region, East Africa Region.

-Resume highlighting relevant experience.
- Motivation Letter expressing why you are interested in any of the above positions. -Plan of Action.
Submit your work to

Deadline for submissions is 20th November, 2017 at 11:59PM GMT.

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The Federation of African Medical Students’ Associations hereby opens a call for application for the position of Chairperson, Standing Committee on Publications (SCOPUB).

Details of the role of this position can be found here  

How do you apply?

– You must send your application to before 20th October 11:59pm GMT.

– Only Non-Nigerian African medical students are eligible.

– Send the following documents to before 20th October 11:59pm GMT:

  1. Résumé
  2. Cover letter (Not longer than 1 page)
  3. Plan of Action
  4. Letter from your MSA president
  5. Evidence of studentship


Incomplete applications will not be considered. If you have any questions regarding the application process, please feel free to email us at

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