This profile was prepared when Manuela Richter-Werling was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2009.
Combating a society-wide fear of dealing with the problem of mental illness, Manuela shifts the focus from psychological disorders to the concept of mental fitness. In an effort that is effectively removing an age-old taboo, her organization creates an infrastructure that enables local health care organizations to do effective prevention work in schools, supports teachers in dealing with the emotional problems of their students, and increases the students' emotional competences, enabling them to effectively seek help and react to mental crisis. At the moment there exist 35 local groups that conduct workshops at schools in their region, reaching about 22,000 young people per year. To serve schools even more effectively, Manuela is beginning to train teachers to conduct mental fitness workshops themselves.
The New Idea