October 2017 saw the birth of an initiative that gives enormous hope and shines a light on the socially barricaded topic of mental health. The ‘ASAP Initiative’ was co-founded by Sheikha Majda with her sister and created out of a percentage of the renowned beauty brand ASAP’s sales with the sole objective of highlighting and promoting mental health awareness, extending support not only to local but also to regional and international mental health campaigns and similar initiatives. 

Sheikha Majda’s presence and outspokenness are evident from her work with social media awareness campaigns and many other projects and collaborations. Majda proudly proclaims being deeply motivated by family, being a mother, and a grandmother. She grew up and studied here in Kuwait, and this is a big part of who she is. Majda is especially passionate about women’s ability to take care of themselves because she believes that women are the backbone of any healthy society. She also feels that we need to be talking openly about the burdens that most women face in their daily lives and their inability to ask for more help, especially in times of mental stress and depression, since Majda went through that herself. 

Tell us more about the ASAP Initiative. 

The ASAP Initiative is a CSR campaign that focuses on promoting mental health awareness and funding local, regional, and international initiatives focused on mental health, to challenge social and personal stigmas around this issue. The Initiative is part of ASAP brand’s commitment to empowering individuals to be both beautiful and healthy within and without, since beauty begins with clarity, and healthy minds are a natural complement to looking and feeling good. 

What are the obstacles faced in our society when trying to educate people about mental health and wellness? 

People are afraid of talking about the topic as if it’s a shame or a sin that they need to hide or escape from. Social resistance is very high, and the existing mindset established is already against such a sensitive topic that makes it very hard to get people to cooperate and open up easily. People worry about being judged or not accepted, and sadly, most times, they are told to get over it as if it’s a personal failing to have anxiety or depression. 

What should every individual know when it comes to mental health? 

They need to know that it is not a shame and it is more common than accepted and that it can happen to any of us! It has nothing to do with faith and religion, and just like any other physical illness, it can be cured with the correct consultation and therapy. 

Are there support groups, and what could be achieved by these groups? 

We researched and found out that indeed some AA & NA support groups are prevalent here, in fact, there are individuals from neighboring GCC states that visit Kuwait for this purpose. On the other hand, social support groups for divorce, motherhood & so on are few, and not many people know about them due to lack of promotions and advertising. Support groups are incredible tools to help people deal with a multitude of issues – including medical, social, spiritual, and emotional. However, they are not very common in our culture. Through the ASAP Initiative, we are trying to draw attention to the benefits of being in a mental health support group. Support groups don’t necessarily need to be led by a specialist; the facilitator can be one of the members who boasts leadership skills and overall knowledge about the disorders. But since it’s a brand-new culture in Kuwait, we have a group of psychiatrists and psychologists that are kind enough to volunteer and give us hours from their generous time to put these groups on the right path. Once the groups get bigger, and some are totally ready to lead, they will restart new groups, and the cycle continues. We believe that many mental health issues can lose their hold on an individual if they were discussed openly and honestly. We should bear in mind that a support group does not replace therapy – it just provides an opportunity for people to share personal experiences and feelings, coping strategies, or firsthand information about diseases or treatments.

In your opinion, what should each person be doing to help educate people around them on any general matter? To spread the word and be an advocate for that matter after reading about it and researching, and, understandably, it is not always easy to speak about uncomfortable subjects, but once you do it with love and respect, it becomes easy.

In addition to the ASAP Initiative, you also have a line of beauty products. Tell us more about them, and how do they differ from the ones in the market? ASAP started as a small home business, it was the first beauty home service in Kuwait and what distinguished us from our competitors is that we humanized our social presence. A lot of trust was created by establishing a strong consumer-brand relationship, and this helped us snowball. 

ASAP products are made in the UK from 100% natural organic ingredients with no animal testing and using environmentally friendly components. Some of the natural ingredients chosen are tea tree, argan oil, olive oil, coconut oil, coffee, citrus, vitamin C, pro-vitamin B5, and many others that were all handpicked to serve the primary purpose of our products which is to be “effective and natural.”

Your presence on social media is a positive one that we personally are grateful for. How do you pick the topics of discussions, and how do people respond to sharing personal journeys?

My followers are my number one source of inspiration. From the very beginning their questions, comments and the stories shared with me, especially the personal ones, made me feel responsible for sharing with them any knowledge I have not only about mental health but also beauty tips, parenting matters, healthy recipes, anything useful I discover. The ASAP products were tailored according to their needs and demands; that’s why they went viral in no time.

The response was terrific, almost shocking in a way that I did not expect. I am grateful that so many want to open up and share their journeys as well as learn from my experience.

We’ve all seen makeup-free snaps and filter-free videos. Tell us, what’s your secret? *inserts heart-eye emoji*

Using ASAP products with consistency! I follow my daily skincare routine without fail – day and night, and I watch my water intake and try to sleep well.

The ASAP Initiative is a private campaign funded by ASAP Beauty and co-founded by Sheikha Majda Al Sabah. It promotes mental health awareness and funds local, regional, and international initiatives. If you are seeking regional referrals, visit asap.com.kw

Creative Photographer: Djinane AlSuwayeh // Creative Director: Adel Al Ansari // Dressed in: Bottega Veneta