Today we’re talking with Ally Salama who has launched EMPWR magazine, the first mental health magazine in the Middle East, which has garnered recognition from the WHO. He is also part of Empathy Always Wins, leadership and mental health podcast. Now, he is building his next start-up, The Arabic and English Digital Support Network.
Growing up as an athlete, Ally never expected to be involved in mental health advocacy like he is now. Through his own experience, Ally realized he couldn’t connect with others through his upbringing in his peer group. When he finally did something about it, he found he wasn’t the only one experiencing this in the Arab culture. The culture in Cairo is tough; the emphasis was always on sports and achieving in Ally’s world, while emotions and feelings were cast to the side.
Now in the Middle East, Ally is an ambassador for mental health. EMPWR is designed to build psycho-education around cultural relevance. Attending the Arab Harvard Conference about reimagining identity was when Ally realized this was what he was meant for.
Ally was diagnosed with major depressive disorder in his second year of studying in Toronto. Men often don’t talk about their mental health, but Ally urges them to seek help. There is strength in vulnerability and being who you are. Through Empathy Always Wins, Ally is spreading the message of empathy and vulnerability.
Currently, Ally is building The EMPWR Hub, a way for Arabic/English youth to put their feelings out there and get support. Remember to be easy on yourself – be present, not perfect. Reach out for support to those that you trust and ask for help on your journey.