A CONVERSATION WITH ABA CATO ANDAH

Hello everyone. For today’s episode, I’m excited to interview the wonderful lady by the name Aba Cato Andah again. She is the first person to have been interviewed here twice. If you follow the blog post you may remember her. Today we’re talking about mental health. Enjoy!

Ama Duncan (AD): Welcome Lady Aba. It’s wonderful to have you here again.

Aba Cato Andah (ACA): Thank you Lady Ama. I’m incredibly honoured to be the first to be interviewed by you twice here.

AD: Lady Aba, I asked for this second interview because for some time now, I would meet people and ask them how they were doing and they would reply, “I survived the week”. I thought it was funny till a friend drew my attention to the fact that there is a lot going on with people. And watching the interview you did in our Fab Women In Business group, I was convinced that we had to do this again. I know you yourself have had an experience with it. What’s your story?

ACA: Before I start, let me say this; when people say they are languishing it’s not that they are mentally ill but in a few years if we don’t deal with it, it’ll become an epidemic of mental illness. The point is to thrive in life. We’re going through the issues of life against a backdrop of a pandemic which keeps morphing whenever we think it’s gone down. People have lost their jobs, loved ones, livelihoods, relationships and it’s just very tough. Yes, I have suffered from issues of mental health. All of us have. When you have a cold or a minor illness it can aggravate into a diagnosable illness if not treated. In the same way, mental illness can escalate too. It was in July 2021 when I realized my mental health was compromised. I lost a dear friend, a close uncle amongst other people; 6 people within a span of 2 weeks! Before I realized, I recognized I was not productive, I felt like being isolated and my head could get so full. Because I knew the symptoms, at the end of the month I took a week off. I went to the beach with my family and the different environment just helped. Mental health is a state of psychological well being. When you’re mentally healthy you can be productive and cope with life. But I realized I was dragging and I had no motivation. Life will bring stress, so it’s important we have a toolbox of mental health strategies. Also, over a decade ago, I went through something in my personal life and it was intense. My marriage was breaking up, it was depressing. My kids were young then and it took so much effort to get them going. I had become so negative but I had a very supportive family who kept pushing me. I decided to go for counselling and when I met the counsellor, I was like ‘this is supposed to be me’. It was after that encounter that I decided to be a therapist. I quit my job, went back to school and became a therapist. We should all be concerned by our mental health now. There is no better time than now!

AD: Unlike you who is a professional who was able to detect when something was off, how does a lay woman like me or others reading detect when something is wrong?

ACA: Professional or not, we should all be mental health advocates and we can detect the symptoms. Mental illness is a disorder of mental health and there are many common symptoms such as clinical depression, anxiety, schizophrenia – when we lose touch with reality, bipolar disorder, alcohol abuse, drug abuse just to mention a few. In children one may have ADHD or autism. These are just the few under the wide umbrella. For Clinical Depression, one feels sad or depressed, a loss of vitality, changes with how your body works like with sleeping or eating, isolating, low energy, suicidal thoughts, etc. There are about nine different symptoms but if you realize you’re experiencing five of them constantly for three weeks and over, you need to start getting healthy.

AD: How does one deal with these symptoms?

ACA: Talk to someone you can trust like a family member or a dear friend or a church member or your pastor. You can also talk to a doctor or book an appointment to see a counsellor. Whatever it is, speak to somebody. Having a support system is very key for our mental health. That’s why I love what you do with your community. It’s all about supporting each other and it’s awesome.

AD: Thank you Lady Aba. Sometimes you may know someone in your life and you can see that something is wrong, but whenever you ask what is wrong they are unwilling to talk about it. How do we deal with such situations?

ACA: First off, you can’t force somebody to talk. But what I will say is that, how about you ask open ended questions instead. If you ask “Are you fine”, they may say yes. You may try an open ended question like “what is wrong”. And you can assure the person you are always there for them as well and encourage them.

AD: Thank you so much for this. With some of the women who reach out to me asking for support, I recommend them to the professionals in our network but sometimes they are out of their budget range. When seeking help becomes above our budget when we don’t have the means, how do we go about it please?

ACA: It is not easy and not only in Ghana. But it’s a really tough one in Ghana. Just like how we find ways in treating other illnesses, the same way we should tackle our mental health seriously. Another thing is seeing how essential mental health is for our wellbeing. To accomplish what we have to accomplish we need to be healthy. Here is a list of facilities in Ghana where one can get mental health support 

AD: Thank you so much Lady Aba. In other news, how is it going with your book, Reflections of a Hopemonger?

ACA: It’s going great because I had a fantastic business coach who saw me through. I’ve been able to build my social media presence, I get invitations to speak and I’m working on something which I’m excited to announce in a month about finding your purpose. So it’s really been good.

AD: Aww I am blushing. Thank you. Before I let you go, complete the following  with short sentences or phrases please:

If I could advise my younger self in one sentence, I would say “Girl, aim to thrive”.

I am fabulous because “God created me for a specific purpose”.

A book that I would recommend on mental health is, “The Gifts of Imperfection by Brené Brown”.

AD: Wonderful! How do we find you?

ACA: You can find me as Aba Cato Andah on all social media platforms. In Ghana my book is available on booknook.store, Kingdom bookstores and Booktique Ghana. For the rest of the world it’s available on Amazon and most of the major bookstore websites. 

AD: Thank you so much Lady Aba. We promise to do the best we can to maintain our mental health. And congrats to your daughter as well on beginning her university journey.

ACA: Thank you very much too. We are all in this together. It’s about healthy habits.

Well, did you enjoy this session with Lady Aba again? Kindly leave your responses in the comments below. Check out the links below for her book and the other one she recommended. Don’t forget to reach out to her on social media. Until next time, keep being fabulous!

Ama xx

About Aba Cato Andah

Aba Cato Andah, MBA, MA, LMHC is a Christian psychotherapist, Mindset Coach and sought-after Speaker. She is the founder of Chrysalis Counseling & Coaching, a private counseling practice. The constant theme in Aba’s life and career has been her concern for the well-being of others and her love for imparting information and new insights to encourage people to live more authentic and rewarding lives. Aba is a passionate Mental Health Advocate and is a Director of Health and Wellbeing International, an NGO aimed at mental health education and promotion. Aba is the author of the book “Reflections of a Hopemonger”, which is available worldwide on Amazon. And she is the Host of the “Hopemongers” Podcast”, on all major podcast streaming platforms. Aba lives in Florida with her husband Edmund, an OB/Gyn. They are blessed with an adult son, a daughter and a daughter-in-law.Get her book “Reflections of a Hopemonger” here https://amzn.to/3e6tnhl

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