What you need to know:
- The WHO states that health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.
- In 2017, a WHO report ranked Kenya as the sixth among countries with the highest levels of depression as 1.9 million were diagnosed with depression and 1,408 people commit suicide yearly
October 10 was a unique World Mental Health Day as the world grapples with Covid-19, which presents anxiety and stress, mental health crisis triggers.
During the pandemic, many people are undergoing financial difficulties as a result of the businesses being down-scaled, lay-offs and unpaid leave. Many families have been left homeless by floods in various parts of the country. Some who have recovered from the virus have to contend with stigma. All these are stressors that can make one susceptible to mental illness.
The social distancing requirement, isolation and lockdowns have caused anxiety and stress, which can be overwhelming as there are no longer the normal interactions we were used to.
The WHO states that health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity. This means that mental health is more than just the absence of mental disorders or disabilities. It defines depression as a common mental disorder marked by persistent sadness and loss of interest in activities one normally enjoys, with the inability to carry out daily activities for at least a fortnight.
Depression, a mental disorder, is one of the main causes of disability and affects some 264 million people. Now that we are grappling with a pandemic that has disrupted our normal lives, causing anxiety, the chances of depression are high and more has to be done to avert another crisis — of mental illness.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notes that depression is nearly twice as common among women as men, whereas the affected men are more likely than females to excessively drink alcohol, display anger and engage in risk-taking.
A report compiled from the Kenya Red Cross Society call centre and the psychological support programme, which is run by Minet Insurance Brokers and ABSA Group, show that many individuals, apart from those in isolation or quarantine centres, called in for non-health issues such as hunger due to loss of income, postponement of national examination, floods, depression, rape and domestic violence.
In 2017, a WHO report ranked Kenya as the sixth among countries with the highest levels of depression as 1.9 million were diagnosed with depression and 1,408 people commit suicide yearly. Amid the coronavirus, cases can spike. A good number of suicides occur impulsively during crises.
Cases of gender-based violence and rape have also increased.
Those with mental disorders should be given social support, care and treatment. Some issues, like acting erratically due to mental illness, are actually better served by medical attention than incarceration.
Dorothy Pamella, Kisumu