Bassant grew up in Egypt where the popular culture demonized people with mental health issues. Films, tv series and magazines portrayed them as crazy, society stigmatized them and encouraged people to avoid interacting with them. A person with mental health issues is deemed invaluable, perhaps even problematic and should be avoided at all costs. These negative portrayals never sat well with Bassant which is why she decided to pursue a degree in psychology and work in the field.
Bassant started researching the roots of the stigma surrounding people with mental health and discovered that the problem goes beyond popular culture to state institutions and the medical infrastructure in the country. With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the alienation people experienced as a result of quarantine rules was felt even deeply by people with mental health issues who had no access to support or resources. Even those who did, feared the stigma and further isolation that people with mental health issues experience even without a global pandemic. Bassant was most concerned about the impact this isolation is having on young people with mental health issues. She wanted to spread awareness about the heavy cost of isolation on young people, especially those with a history of mental health and no access to support.
Armed with a degree in psychology and a desire to change the narrative around mental health, she started Modawah, or healing in Arabic, a project aimed at spreading awareness on mental health, increasing access to mental health support and resources and providing virtual training workshops to parents and educators who wish to better understand and address the challenges faced by young people during the pandemic.
Bassant worked with a team of volunteers to get the project off the ground with team members working on setting up social media pages and marketing the project, coordinating with mental health professionals and the ministry of youth and health, seeking organizational partnerships and conducting training workshops. To expand accessibility, Bassant and her team called on sign language professionals to deliver training to mental health workers so that they are able to help people with hearing impairments. Virtual workshops on a variety of topics ranging from identity, to domestic violence, bullying and depression and anxiety, are routinely delivered to the public or anyone who seeks more knowledge.
Since its inception, Modawah has conducted over 70 workshops and provided direct, mental health support to over 120 young people. It has expanded to Jordan through a partnership with a local organization with the aim of delivering joint workshops to young people from the country. Bassant hopes to continue to grow and expand Modawah and conduct in-person workshops once the pandemic is over.