New Start-Up “Siira” Aims to End Stigma About Mental Health in Lebanon

One of the most valuable things we possess is our mental health. What makes us feel human and vulnerable is how we deal with our emotions and problems. In a society that views vulnerability as weakness, people are often clouded with their feelings. This is not true, as vulnerability demonstrates strength and makes us feel more human. Countries in the Middle East are giving mental health services for people to share their stories and learn how to cope with their continuous life events as the debate around mental health has become more widespread. Furthermore, some countries have seen so many challenges and conflicts that the mental health of their population is deteriorating. Lebanon is one of those countries that has seen a blast that killed over 200 people, as well as a COVID-19 outbreak and a financial catastrophe that has left people stressed and their mental health at an all-time low.

Via: Los Angeles Times
The Beirut bombing, which killed more than 200 people and had a significant mental health impact, continues to weigh heavily on those who survived the day.

However, with the rise of start-up projects in the region, a new start-up in Lebanon aims to create a dialogue and a safe platform for individuals to discuss their concerns and the situation of their nation. This is a start-up that seeks to give emotional help through expert-led group conversations. Siira, situated in Beirut, hosts weekly online sessions on a variety of issues, including parenting, relationships, family dynamics, and work, which are monitored by professional therapists and psychologists. This is a place where people may talk about their difficulties in a “secure and private” environment.

Sandra Salame, the founder of Siira, has stated that this is an initiative aimed at reducing stigma around mental health concerns, alleviating isolation by bringing others suffering similar hardships together, and addressing problems at an early stage through a preventive approach and method. She went on to explain:

The goal is not to replace therapy, but to raise awareness and emotional education so that you can detect if you have a problem early on, adjust your behavior, and perhaps realize you need treatment or that you are not alone in going through this.

Founder of Siira – Sandra Salama via The National News

As the world grows increasingly complicated and clouded by conflicts that do not only exhaust our resources, but also our minds and bodies. The importance of having a dialogue about mental health is critical, as is reassuring people that they are not alone in this world. The stigma around it should be removed, and we must recognize that mental health is just as vital as physical health because being vulnerable is a trait that demonstrates how powerful some people are.

Salame made it obvious that initiating a conversation and getting people to talk is the first step towards healing, because we often underestimate the power of words and how they can make us feel alive and entire again. The Lebanese people are among the region’s toughest citizens, having been through multiple catastrophes that put a heavy burden on their shoulders. Siira will allow them to discuss more openly about their sentiments and daily challenges without the fear of being judged, which prevents us from becoming our genuine selves.

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