Nour’s Story: Positive steps through e-mental health

Thirty-year-old Nour has suffered from Brittle Bone Disease (osteogenesis imperfecta) since birth. When she was a young student, she moved from a private school in Beirut, Lebanon, to a public school in the village of Hermel. There, she no longer received the same level of assistance for her special needs. The lack of quality support and bullying caused Nour’s marks to decline and she started skipping lessons.

After years at the top of her class, Nour failed her official school exams. The experience traumatized her and she developed a fear of failure and began showing signs of psychological distress. Even so, she didn’t know how to ask for help. When Nour redirected her focus and started teaching at home, the feelings didn’t pass, so she finally tried therapy. Unfortunately, the sessions were too expensive so she was unable to continue receiving the help she needed.

Then, Nour came across an ad for Step-by-Step on social media. A free and confidential E-mental health intervention coordinated by our partner, the World Health Organization and in collaboration with the Lebanon Ministry of Health.

Step-by-Step is a 5-week programme that uses a narrated story to teach skills and techniques for coping with symptoms of depression. Minimal guidance and motivation are provided remotely (i.e. through phone calls or messages) during weekly support contacts by trained non-specialists called “e-helpers”.

When Nour downloaded the app, she discovered tools to aid her in overcoming challenges, breathing exercises to keep her grounded, a safe place to express her feelings, and an e-helper she could relate to when facing difficulty.

With time and dedication, she has begun to feel a difference with the support of Step-by-Step.

“I learned that when I’m feeling down and I don’t have the power to do anything required from me, I can divide things into simple tasks. I found this to be very effective because it made me write with vigor all the thoughts in my head without living in fear of having to write something others like in order to achieve a dream I had in my childhood. Through Step-by-Step, I can express all my emotions, and in return, it gives me the tools to help me overcome the problems I face. The program is also helping strengthen my social relationships and I feel that I have a circle I belong to.”