May 12, 2023

Meet St Jude’s Psychologists - Catherine and Dr Nembris

Mental health is a crucial aspect of our overall well-being, yet remains largely stigmatized and misunderstood. It affects millions of people worldwide, with individuals struggling to cope with a range of conditions, from depression and anxiety to bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. Despite the prevalence of mental health issues, there is a lack of awareness and understanding which often makes it difficult for those affected to seek help. This piece from St Jude’s psychologists will help you understand it and how to help yourself through it.

We live in a highly connected world, climate change, a global pandemic that impacted job security, are some main causes of increased anxiety, stress, and even depression. I am sure as the alumni community, we have individuals balancing their studies at university, trying to have a social life, applying for scholarships, looking for jobs, trying to start a business, we even have alumni balancing both having a job, and having side hustles. We know that we as human beings are determined to make sure everything is running smoothly, however all this can sometimes be stressful. The School of St Jude knows this and that is why we now have a psychologist working in the Beyond St Jude’s team and another who comes to the school for students and staff.

Catherine joined St Jude’s as an Officer - Beyond St Jude’s SP (Mentor Higher Education) last year in March. Among the many roles that she performs to serve our scholars, she mentors scholars. In her own words, Catherine said, “My work is bridging gaps among scholars and the team, getting on top of their mental health to help them meet their personal goals, and ensuring the organization's vision of Fighting Poverty Through Education is achieved.” Because of her intervention we are seeing better academic results from scholars.

We asked Catherine why she chose psychology, and her response was, “Going for psychology was greatly influenced by my personal life. I was at a point in my life where I needed so much mental health help to navigate through the most challenging moments of my youth. I, therefore, opted to study psychology to help myself mainly.” Catherine adds, “As I got deeper, my priorities changed from self to others. I thought it would be very selfish if I only thought of myself. I, therefore, decided to dedicate myself to serving others as far as mental health is concerned.” From then till now Catherine has been helping people.

Staff and students at St Jude’s also need support, and that is where Dr Nembris comes in. Dr Nembris is a Counselling Psychologist at Mt Meru Hospital. She works with young adults and scholars. Her target group at Mt Meru is ages 3 to 45. Dr Nembris knew from an early age she wanted to study psychology “I knew I wanted to study psychology at the age of 10 (Standard 5). It was an inspiration from my mother's elder sister. (she studied psychology too).”

We asked Dr Nembris and Catherine for advice for our alumni. The first thing we asked was, what advice would you give to scholars about balancing studies and social activities? Dr Nembris mentioned, “I would say these two aspects complement each other and as per my life experience, sometimes the social activities can overrule the studies; thus social activities are fun and interesting but still we all need to work around both. Every student needs to be part of social activities in order to be good at studies and the studies can also lead us to healthier social activities/ better social or support systems. They just need to be keen on what social activities are they carrying out.”

What advice would you give alumni looking for jobs who are now stressed?

  • Take breaks: It's important to take time to decompress and recharge your batteries. Take breaks when you need to and do activities that you enjoy to help you relax and clear your mind.
  • Connect with a mentor: Reach out to alumni or professionals in your field who can offer guidance and support. Mentors can provide valuable feedback, advice, and connections to help you in your job search.
  • Stay organized: Keep track of job applications, deadlines, and follow-ups to avoid feeling overwhelmed by the job search process. Use tools like calendars, spreadsheets, and to-do lists to help you stay on top of things.
  • Practice self-care: Don't neglect your physical and mental health during your job search. Make time to exercise, eat healthy, and engage in self-care activities like meditation or yoga to help reduce stress.
  • Network: Use professional networking websites like LinkedIn to connect with people in your field, attend alumni events or job fairs, and stay engaged with your professional community. Building relationships can lead to job opportunities and help reduce stress during the job search process.
  • Don’t compare yourself to your peers: The job search process is not a race, and positions aren’t going to “run out”. Everyone has their own unique circumstances and will find success at different times. Keep your anxiety at bay by actively reminding yourself of this. Focus instead on what you can do.

One of the main reasons for a mental breakdown for our Alumni has been unrealistic expectations and the notion that they are better than the rest of the applicants. We need to see our alumni managing their expectations, believing in themselves and choosing jobs that they can be competitive in. There is a lot of competition in the world, however one should not give up.

Dr Nembris adds, “Instead of staying at home closed in a room worrying about when you will get a job; go out and do something for the community/volunteer (staying at home never helps). The more the interactions, the more the connections and opportunities.”

Mental health is important and we want you all to take care of yourselves when continuing with your life. If you need someone to talk to, talk to your friends; that is why we have the Alumni Association. Not in the association yet? Reach out to the alumni office at +255766200609 or email us at