Under the auspices and in the presence of the Minister of Telecommunications Jamal Jarrah, Alfa, managed by Orascom TMT, held a dialogue on mental illness in partnership with the Francophone Association for Mental Illness during which 6 renowned caricaturists signed their illustrated books about mental health and illness.
The conference was held at the Salon Du Livre Francophone at Biel, in the presence of the Minister of Social Affairs Pierre Bou Assi, Alfa Chairman and CEO Mr. Marwan Hayek, and renowned figures.
This initiative comes within the framework of the “Alfa 4-Life” CSR program and Alfa’s commitment to the United Nations Sustainable Development Plan 2030.
Dr. Sami Richa, president of the Francophone Association for Mental Illness, spoke about the high rate of mental illness, with 20 to 25% of people suffering from one of the 450 known mental illnesses. “These illnesses expose people to death and to a decline in the quality of life, representing a burden on the mental, personal and family level as well as on the economic and social level.” He added, “Since mental illness is widespread and serious, we should be aware of the first symptoms in order to implement early and proper treatment. Hence here lies the importance of these ongoing campaigns by the Francophone Association for Mental Illness since its inception in 2015 aiming to fight the stigma surrounding these diseases for early diagnosis and appropriate treatment. The campaign we are launching this year is especially directed at schools and universities, and thus to students who are in the stages of adolescence or early adulthood. It takes into account six critical issues that may lead to many disorders, especially in young people: gaming addiction, ADHD, panic disorder, social anxiety disorder, bullying, and PTSD. We asked six artists to draw the symptoms and treatment of these issues in a simplified manner, along with a socially oriented story, in order to educate the youth about the need to consult specialists for treatment in case they feel the first symptoms. This campaign would not have been possible without the support of Alfa which insisted on helping our association implement this campaign. This is the third year Alfa supports our association.”
“A book can be judged by its cover is a famous saying that applies to books but not humans. We often see people who are seemingly happy but who are in fact suffering from depression that could lead them to suicide, such as actor Robin Williams, who made everyone laugh while he was suffering from a serious mental illness that led him to take his own life. Mental illness is prevalent in our society and affects about 25 percent of people with some form of more than 400 known mental disorders. Suicide rates have risen alarmingly, as 100 cases of suicide have occurred in the first half of this year.”
“Our duty as a socially and nationally responsible company is to stand by any association or individual wishing to raise awareness about a specific issue, to help solve or alleviate it as well as reduce the losses associated with it, thus comes our collaboration with the Francophone Association for Mental Illness.”
Hayek thanked Minister Jarrah for supporting the Alfa 4-Life program and all Alfa’s CSR initiatives.
“In 1978, a lecturer in sociology said that if the civil war, then in its third year, ended now, we would need 20 years to treat the ensuing mental trauma. Hence, it is not unusual that after a 15-year war, 25% of the Lebanese suffer from mental issues.”
“People need to acknowledge this problem to begin treatment. Educational follow-up in schools is also essential to be able to treat any mental issue in its early stages. It is therefore necessary to raise awareness to facilitate any treatment and attain a stable society so that every citizen can effectively contribute to the community.”
Speaking about the Alfa 4-Life program, Jarrah said, “It represents the commitment of Alfa and Mr. Hayek towards Lebanese society, which makes me keen to participate in most of the activities associated with this program. I also did not hesitate to raise the budget allocated to it because this investment benefits all the Lebanese and their country.”
He also pointed out to the initiative to help young Avedis, which was successful thanks to the positive response of the Lebanese, who demonstrated their humanity and sense of compassion.
The round table included the signature of the six books by their authors: Armand Homsi, Ivan Debs, Ralph Doumit, Gilbert Simon, Raphael Macaron, and Fulvio Kodsi.