May, the Mental Health Awareness Month, is a good time to raise awareness of and reduce the stigma surrounding behavioural health issues as well as highlight the ways in which mental illness and addiction can affect all of us.
On people with mental illness, Kenya was recently ranked fourth in Africa, at 1.9 million. Depression was the most common mental illness reported. According to the Kenya Mental Health Policy (2015-2030), mental disorders have risen rapidly. Government statistics show one in four Kenyans has suffered from a mental illness.
Ignoring mental health is detrimental to well-being. Let players and authorities create awareness of speaking out about mental health, especially among men. Campaigners constantly urge those suffering that it’s okay to not be okay. It is human to not always be at the top of our game and the sooner we accept that the better for all.
Use their influence
Mental health is a silent pandemic that needs to be talked about. Such struggles and the decision to tackle them are rather personal. Influential people need to talk about their mental health and use their influence to help those struggling.
There needs to be an environment where mental issues are handled in a sensitive way. We live highly stressful lives that worsen mental health struggles, some as mundane as deadlines at work, responsibilities at home, romantic relationships and social media pressure. The problem begins when we hide it.
Let’s start with school-based programmes that focus on developing depression management strategies for students to easy and accessible mental wellness facilities. Improving communities’ knowledge of mental health issues will play a big role in eradicating the stigma associated with seeking help. All ought to know that mental health assistance should be accessible.