Mental Illness Awareness Week is Coming up: Here’s What You Can Do
This year’s mental illness awareness day is set to be commemorated on October 10, 2018. I bet you are not aware of this and even if you are, chances are pretty good that you do not have plans of attending any event. At worst, you might even forget to share a post on any of your social media profiles in order to increase awareness about mental health and mental illnesses. Don’t be embarrassed; I thought you could use a reminder.
According to WHO, mental illness remains the largest cause of disability worldwide, with some 300 million people suffering from depression. The statistics are even more worrying here in Kenya:
- 1 in 4 Kenyans is likely to suffer from one or more mental illnesses in their lifetime.
- 5 in 6 Kenyans with mental illnesses do not receive treatment.
- 4 in 5 Kenyans who commit suicide were depressed at the time of their death.
- 3X more Kenyan men than women with a mental illness are likely to commit suicide.
With such figures, we cannot sit on our asses all day every day and assume that things are okay. Things are not okay, Kenyans! In fact, it is worse if you are in the age 15 – 29 bracket—suicide is the second most common cause of death among youth here. I am not being an alarmist; the figures are out there for all to see. To address mental health issues, we must be willing to:
- stare at the hard facts;
- accept to have candid conversations about mental health;
- open up our minds to learning about various types of mental illnesses;
- stop stigmatization of mental illness patients;
- stop trying to pray away mental illnesses and start seeking professional help; and
- support mental health causes such as not-for-profit organizations that provide mental health awareness and support.
To get you started, here are places where you can get mental health support and information in Kenya:
As per information on their website, Amani Counselling Center is a not-for-profit voluntary organization that offers counselling services to people dealing with emotional and psychological problems. It also offers training for professional counselors and equips workers in helping professions with counselling skills. The organization is faith-based and besides the head office on Mbagathi Way, Nairobi, it has regional offices in Kisumu, Mombasa and Nyeri.
Still A Mum
Still a Mum is a charitable organization that offers one-on-one counselling and online group support for mothers and families dealing with stillbirth, miscarriages and infant loss. They work to improve care given to bereaved mothers and increase awareness about infant loss. You can also connect with them on their Facebook page.
PPD (Post-Partum Depression) Island
Run by a lady called Samoina, PPD Island offers information about post-partum depression, a type of depression that commonly occurs in some mothers shortly after delivery. In her blog, Samoina shares the story of her struggle with PPD and how she learnt to cope with and overcome it.
True North (Kenya)
Founded by Major RTD Lucy Wairimu Mukuria, True North is a not-for-profit organization that offers mental health support to soldiers and their families. Their vision is to see soldiers living dignified full lives as human beings, parents and spouses in spite of war-related trauma. You can also find them on their Facebook page.
Of course, there are many other platforms actively involved in mental health issues—I just shared a few that I have interacted with in the past—feel free to share them in the comments section below.
And here’s what you can do right now:
- Spread awareness by sharing this post. Copy this post’s link and share it on any of your social media profiles. Sharing is caring.
- Head on to any of the above places to educate yourself about how you can play a part in issues mental health.
- Encourage conversations about mental health wherever you are. Let’s have more conversations about mental health in schools, churches, at the workplace and virtually everywhere else.
If you suspect that you or someone you know may be suffering from depression or other mental health disorder, talk to a professional as soon as possible. Do not self-diagnose or medicate using information you find online.