Mental health issues are hardly discussed in Ghanaian culture. It is not treated with much importance as it should, resulting in little or no awareness and advocacy which could lead to a meaningful impact.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that approximately 13% of the population in Ghana suffer from a mental disorder, of which 3% suffer from a severe mental disorder and the other 10% suffer from a moderate to mild mental disorder (WHO, 2007).
While the government, through the Ministry of Health, is doing its best to drive more attention and provide sufficient help for people suffering from mental illnesses, Yaa Adjem, a final year student of the University of Ghana, is doing her bit in advising and educating young people on mental health.
The Linguistics and French student talks about mental health via her podcast named, Frozen Vinegar.
“It’s about how to deal with the dark days and putting your mind at ease. It’s me basically saying that you’re not alone, it’s okay to cry and you deserve to be kind to your mind, mostly because your trauma isn’t your fault,” Yaa said about her podcast.
The kind of issues Yaa discusses on mental health reflects the name of her podcast. According to her, the notion behind Frozen Vinegar was telling the cold hard truth, no matter how bittersweet it was, taking it from the two separate words – frozen (cold, solid, sometimes burns, even) and vinegar (bittersweet in nature).
Frozen Vinegar, however, started as a blog. Yaa explains that she later realized the need to start a podcast because not everyone likes to read, and also because a lot of young people have now developed an interest in podcasts.
“The blog was more centred on making people feel good about themselves and taking care of their mental health and guarding their minds in the midst of the madness because truth be told, I was going through it too,” she said.
“I was kind of talking to myself but talking to others. A few friends pushed me to keep going because they could relate to my content. The blog was kind of like a diary. I’d talk about what’s going on briefly, and then I’d give myself and every other person reading some kind of advice.”
“The podcast followed the same pattern, but I decided to go towards education, more than just talking about myself. It caught on, and here we are,” she added.
After a successful first season of Frozen Vinegar, Yaa reveals that her listeners loved every episode and provided positive feedback.
“They mostly expect episodes everyday but we all know I don’t want to do that [laughs]. They mostly encourage me, give constructive criticism when necessary and tell me I have a soothing voice. I mean, I doubt that, but as long as they’re happy and I’m helping brighten someone’s day, mission accomplished,” she said.
Though she also loved every episode she produced for season one of Frozen Vinegar, Yaa says her favourite is the bonus episode (Ending The Season) she released on December 31st 2020.
“That one was a ride [laughs]. I gave account of my year and it just made me grateful for my journey so far and I couldn’t have been more proud of myself. Even though I hate listening to my own voice, that’s one episode I’ll always go back to whenever I feel down.”
On what her listeners should expect for Frozen Vinegar season two, she said: “I’d just say to expect more interactive sessions. I don’t think I’ve ever disappointed, so they should just sit tight and watch out for that. Still, mental health content, but let’s just keep an open mind to what’s coming soon.”
“The aim is to continue to uplift others and encourage them to be kind to their minds, even as they’re kind to others,” Yaa added.
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