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Student who suffered exam anxiety attacks launches mental health project

23-year-old wants to help others to open up

12 October, 2018 — By Tom Foot

Karima Mbarak

KARIMA Mbarak had anxiety attacks during her A-level exams, and ended up getting three U grades.

But after getting help from a specialist programme for young people she went back and got three As and an A star.

The 23-year-old, who lives in the Peabody Abbey Orchard estate in Pimlico, is now in her final year of her degree course at SOAS.

Karima launched her social enterprise, KeepTLking, on World Mental Health Day on Wednesday. The project aims to better young people’s mental health particularly among black and minority ethnic people through research.

She wants to focus on helping Africans find the right help, particularly young black men, and help them engage and empower them to talk more about mental health through workshops and discussions on social media.

Karima said: “My primary research is through social media polls and meeting with young people directly in local workshops. I know that I don’t have the resources of a big organisation but I can help to slowly bridge the gap in research and give young BAME people a voice in the literature. This will hopefully help to change the dialogue around mental health and ultimately public policy too.”

Karima was able to develop her idea into a social enterprise through the “Bootstrap” programme. And it gained a second place in the programme’s final business pitch competition.

She was also assigned a professional mentor and was invited to be a guest speaker on mental health by the web giant Google.

Karima was recently a guest speaker at Google as part of its “Back to Uni” campaign which aims to engage first-year students to manage their mental health and well-being positively as well as their studies.

Lajaune Lincoln, head of youth services at the Peabody, said: “Young people like Karima show us the success they can achieve if they have access to the right support and opportunities.

“The Peabody Community Foundation is focused on working with young people so that they can take the lead to develop strategies and solutions to overcome any challenges. We see them as the experts in their own lives.”

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