Listen to teenagers and help, mental illness is affecting us

A depressed teenage girl.
Photo credit: Shutterstock

What you need to know:

  • As a Form Three student, I have been struggling with losing a whole year of studies due to Covid-19 pandemic.
  • Most adults often dismiss teenagers with mental anguish

I watched in shock and horror recently when 20-year-old Chebet Ronoh confessed on NTV’s Wicked Edition show that she was anxious about acceptance of herself and that of others.

Many other teenagers and I can relate to what Chebet was saying because we struggle with mental health issues with no one to turn to.

As a Form Three student, I have been struggling with losing a whole year of studies due to Covid-19 pandemic.

We watch the news, and Education Cabinet Secretary George Magoha continues to slap us with dates but there is little information on the days ahead of us from the government and schools.

Mental challenges

This, and other matters, cause mental challenges among teens. Statistics from the government show that nearly 500,000 Kenyans suffer from severe mental illness, and this population includes children and teenagers.

Most adults often dismiss teenagers with mental anguish, saying “why would such a young person worry so much about life that they would be anxious?”

There are millions of reasons, including troubled homes.

The other is social media. Now that we are not in school, Facebook, TikTok, WhatsApp and Instagram are teenagers’ pastime.

It starts with excitement, then these platforms plunge many teens into mental distress.

Social media 

On social media platforms, young people look up to celebrities and feel the need to emulate the stars’ lifestyles. This induces the rush to ‘kuomoka’, the craving to be famous amongst our peers.

All is not lost. The society and the government can save teenagers from the jaws of mental ill-health.

The government can start by training more mental health experts such as psychiatrists.

The recent census showed that there are more than 47 million Kenyans, but very few psychiatrists in hospitals to treat the millions when they get sick.

Second, our parents and society should accept that mental health is a health challenge among young people.

It is hard to open up to people who do not see what is troubling you as a genuine concern.

If we are tomorrow’s leaders as it is often said, society needs to do better to ensure that when we are adults, we are not a depressed generation.

Dhiman, 19, is a Form Three student at Nairobi School.   Are you aged 10-20 and would like to be Nation’s young reporter? Email your 400-600 word article to [email protected]