You could have tipped Gerthyo and Wilando Ferreira with a feather when their screening test that aims to combat mental illness in teenagers was recently awarded two international prizes at a science expo in Spain.
“It actually just started as a project, but the longer we work with it, talk about it and do final development, the more it steals our hearts,” jokes Gerthyo.
He and Wilando, two brothers who are both learners at Waterkloof High School in Pretoria, walked away with the prize for best research project in psychological sciences and best expo project in the category for international participation (all teams except Spanish participants).
They won the South African Youth Engineering & Science Symposium (SAYESS) in December, after which they were invited to represent South Africa at this international expo, XXIV Exporecerca Jove, in Barcelona, Spain. to represent.
The Ferreira brothers tell in Rhewal’s studio that the screening test was developed as a joint project, which they undertook for the school’s annual science expo. The idea for the project gradually developed after one of Gerthyo’s classmates took his own life about two years ago.
“Why no one really knew what was going on in his heart was the biggest question everyone asked. After that, we started reading more and more about adolescent suicide and realized that it is a big problem that is getting increasingly worse and is not getting enough attention,” explains Wilando.
The aim of this screening test is specifically to identify early signs of depression, anxiety and possible self-harm in young people and to call in help if necessary.
How does it work? Learners fill in a questionnaire and if they answer “yes” to certain questions, a warning message is sent to the school’s psychologist. In this way, help can be provided to the child in time. An app for the questionnaire was developed by the Segametsi Hope Expertise company.
They hope to develop this screening test further, finalize it and make it available to schools in the near future. Although none of the Ferreira brothers intend to pursue a career in psychology, it is definitely something they want to stay involved with.
If you want to know more about the project, you can send an email to [email protected].
- Listen to the full interview with two brothers, Gerthyo and Wilando Ferreira, at the top of the article. They recently won two international prizes for their screening test that identifies signs of depression, anxiety and possible self-harm in adolescents.
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