Leadership Prize: Sarra Eddahiri ‘19 investigates mental health status of students in her native Tunisia
Eddahiri is using the support of the Leadership Prize to increasing mental health awareness among college students in her home country.
By Timothy Boles '20
All around the world, there is a stigma that surrounds mental health. In the United States, college students are fortunate to have mental health services and professionals easily accessible.
This is not the reality in all countries. In the North African country of Tunisia, access to mental health services is almost nonexistent. Students in Tunisia are forced to deal with the stressors and pressures that accompany being a college student without having access to any mental health professionals.
Sarra Eddahiri ‘19, a public health studies and statistics double major, is using Elon University’s Leadership Prize to research how the stigma and struggles of mental health are impacting college students in Tunisia.
A native of Tunisia, Eddahiri recognized a severe disparity in mental health resources and awareness between the United States and her home country. From conversations with Tunisian students, Eddahiri has learned that people were lacking mental health education, but are eager and willing to learn.
“I am unaware of any current mental health programs in place in Tunisia,” Eddahiri explains. “Even if there are programs in place they are not easily accessible to students.”
The Leadership Prize has not only allowed Eddahiri the opportunity to investigate an issue that is afflicting her home country, but the $10,000 awarded to her has allowed her the ability to implement an intervention technique. According to Eddahiri’s research, following the Arab Spring, political and economic instability have contributed to increased levels of stress and anxiety in young adults.
The Leadership Prize awards Elon students $10,000 to apply their intellectual and leadership skills toward developing a problem solution. The prize supports the intensive study of an issue worthy of study, the development of a plan of action to help address the issue, and the implementation of the solution plan or a test of the solution plan with reportable results.
Eddahiri, with the assistance of her mentor Katherine Johnson, assistant professor of public health, plans to develop a website to educate and inform students about different resources that are available to them. This would allow students free and easily accessible to information regarding mental health.
Upon arriving in the United States, Eddahiri became aware of the lack of mental health education and services in her home country. As a result, she has devoted her research to improving this disparity and strives to improve mental health and education for Tunisian university students.
Learn more about the Leadership Prize here.