Social Entrepreneur

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episode 320: Katherine Venturo-Conerly and Tom Osborn, Shamiri Institute


For extended show notes and a full transcript, see https:://tonyloyd.com/shamiri-institute


Half of the young people in Kenya have elevated depression and anxiety. 45% of the disease burden comes from anxiety and depression. The Shamiri Institute has an answer.

Kenya has been described as a young hustle culture. But that hustle takes a toll.

According to Tom Osborn of the Shamiri Institute, “Mental health and wellbeing are really important. This is especially true in low-income settings like Kenya where I was born and raised. In Kenya, the median age is about 19. There's evidence that shows this young population is stressed because they have to succeed so early in life.”

In Kenya, there is a massive wealth gap. The Gross National Income (GNI) per capita is around $1,750, while the number of millionaires in Kenya will grow by 80% over the next 10 years. Less than 0.1% of the population (8,300 people) own more wealth than the bottom 99.9%. This places pressure on young people to succeed or be left behind.

“Most mental health outcomes are strongly connected with future career outcomes,” Tom explains. “We think mental health is important at this young age because it determines the life trajectories of many young people.”

According to Katherine Venturo-Conerly of the Shamiri Institute, depression and anxiety make up 45% of the disease burden for young people in low-income countries. “Our research shows that approximately one in two youths has elevated depression and anxiety. Yet these young people go untreated because of a lack of caregivers. There is around one mental health provider for every one million Kenyans.”

Tom Osborn explains that “societal stigma, government under-investment,” are partially to blame. But he also points out that “most existing treatments are long, costly, and not culturally appropriate.”

And the answer is…

The Shamiri Institute provides mental health interventions in a simple, stigma-free, scalable, and school-based group intervention. Services are delivered by young lay providers, ages 18-to-24. Shamiri trains the mental health lay providers and provides vetted tools.

Randomized Controlled Trials of the Shamiri Institute’s interventions show more than 35% reduction in both depression and anxiety lasting up to 7 months. The interventions also provided 14% improvements in social support and a 2.5% increase in academic grades.

“Our approach lowers the cultural and systemic barriers that make mental healthcare inaccessible for Kenyan youths,” Katherine explains. “Instead of the typical psychopathology-centered approach to treatment, we use a simple, positively-focused intervention that emphasizes wellbeing, academic and social improvements. Our innovation is brief, accessible, and disseminated through a network of peers working in schools.”

Learn More About Katherine Venturo-Conerly, Tom Osborn and Shamiri Institute:

  • Shamiri Institute: https://www.shamiri.institute
  • Shamiri Institute on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/shamiri_institute
  • Shamiri Institute on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ShamiriTeam
  • Shamiri Institute on Twitter: https://twitter.com/ShamiriTeam
  • Vuma Biofuels (formerly GreenChar): https://www.vumabiofuels.com
  • Tom Osborn’s interview, Episode 50: https://tonyloyd.com/podcast/050-tom-osborn-greenchar-social-entrepreneurship-comes-early

More Resources:

  • Social Entrepreneur Six-Week Quick Start: https://cultureshift.com
  • Self-Assessment, Are you Thriving?: https://cultureshift.com/are-you-thriving
  • Self-Assessment, Discover Your Values: https://cultureshift.com/values


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 2021-07-01  36m