It is estimated that approximately 29% of all people will develop mental health disorders in their lifetime. WHO data shows that, 85% of these cases are found in developing nations where most lack access  to the right treatment.

Studies show that, 50% of all mental health cases begin at the age of 14 and 75% by the age of 24, with 10 years being the average time of delay between onset of symptoms and intervention. Suicide, is the 3rd leading cause of death among youth aged 10-24years.

SAGE’S DILEMMA “The struggles of a teenager with low self-esteem”, is a book written and dedicated to teenagers suffering from Mental Health illness, written by a 14 year old Barbara Kalu.  Sage’s dilemma features a young adolescent girl named Sage who despite being beautiful, she suffers from low self-esteem. Barbara explores Sage’s life as she goes through several stages of mental health illness from depression, low self-esteem to self-harm and how timely intervention saves her life. If you are a parent and have teenager girls, this is a great book for them to learn how to recognize symptoms of mental health illness and what to do about it.


Africa Health IT News (AHIT) team met up with Barbara Kalu currently a student at International school of Kenya, Nairobi to find out what motivated her to write the book. Barbara is a young confident woman who in not only an outstanding student but is always willing to stand for what she believes in. She has won numerous awards and certificates in her school. We hope her zeal will inspire other young African Rising stars to become the best at what they do!

AHIT: Thanks so much for being with us. Tell us a little about yourself?

Barbara: I was born in Atlanta, Georgia and my parents are Nigerian, so I’m both American and

Nigerian. Currently I am based in Nairobi, Kenya where I live with my family.

AHIT: This is a deeply inspiring story. How did you come up with the story?

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Barbara: I wrote this book because we were doing a big research project in school, and for this

Project we had to have a product and so I decided to write a book. The content of my book came from a friend who was going through a hard time with the issues addressed

in “Sage’s Dilemma”

AHIT: As a reader, one would ask oneself, “isn’t Sage going through what most teenagers go through? What would you like to tell your readers, especially teenagers who relate to this story?

Barbara: My advice is the same any person would give; just do what makes you happy. You never know what might happen. God has a plan for you, and you never know where he will take you so write all you want and see where it takes you. Be kind to one another, you never know what people are going though and just make life easier for them and be kind.

AHIT: Did you learn anything from writing this book? What was it?

Barbara: I learned that it’s not always about how you write, sometimes it is, but it’s also about the impact you will leave. Sometimes it might just be one person you touch, but you never know the difference your writing will make in that one person’s life, and that is a beautiful thing

AHIT: If you had to choose, which writer would you consider to be a great Mentor?

Barbara: My writing mentor would definitely have to be my oldest brother Stanley Kalu who is into writing, he would have me read some of his stories and the quality of his work would be so overwhelming and it would just inspire time to do my best and to be a great writer like him.


AHIT: Do you have any advice for other young writers?

Barbara: My advice is the same any person would give; just do what makes you happy. You never know what might happen. God has a plan for you, and you never know where he will take you so write all you want and see where it takes you.

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AHIT: What future projects are you working on, other lists of accomplishments? Hobbies?

Barbara: I’m not working on anything at the moment, just trying to study hard and do well in school and in sports, but who knows maybe someday soon I could have a new book out… you never know.

AHIT: What book are you reading now?

Right now I’m re-reading “The Diary of an Oxygen thief” it’s a great book. But it has nothing to do with the book I wrote.  It’s just a good read

AHIT: What is your preferred method for your readers to get in touch with you?

Barbara: If you ever want to see what I’m up to you can follow my Instagram @barbiek18 and for business inquiries email me at


Teenage mental health illness still remains a big issue. To address the issue, it is vital to watch out for key warning signs in a person. These are

  • Feeling sad and withdrawn for more than 2 weeks
  • Not eating, throwing up, using laxatives to lose weight/significant weight loss or gain
  • Severe mood swings that cause problems in relationships
  • Drastic behavior change, personality and sleeping habits
  • Extreme difficulty in concentrating or staying still that can lead to failure in school
  • Intense worries or fears that can get in the way of daily activities like hanging out with friends or going to classes.

The 4 things that parents can do;

  • Talk with your pediatrician
  • Get referred to a mental health specialist
  • Work with the school especially teachers to monitor your child
  • Connect with other families going through the same



Where to get help

In Kenya, SMS 22214, a FREE Mental Health helpline

Mental Health Apps: Whyville, VISR

Websites:, www.mymindmyfunk


Mary Murugami

Healthcare consultant. She is passionate about Global health and efforts that embrace use of technological innovations to achieve Universal Health Coverage Goal