What you need to know:
- Mental illness is a medical condition that disrupts a person’s thinking, feeling, mood and daily functioning.
- Mental illness can be caused by multiple factors such as genetics, trauma and physical illness.
Are you an over-thinker or a doomsday predictor? Do you find yourself having constant bouts of anxiety? Well you are not alone.
“Health is wealth and there is no health without mental health,” Dr Rashid Aman, Kenya’s health chief administrative secretary, once said.
Mental illness is a medical condition that disrupts a person’s thinking, feeling, mood and daily functioning. There are numerous mental illnesses such as depression, obsessive compulsive disorder, panic disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, borderline personality disorder, Parkinson’s disease and different types of anxiety disorders.
What causes mental illness? Multiple factors such as genetics, trauma and physical illness can contribute to deterioration of mental health. Research has shown that about 20 percent of children and adolescents suffer from mental disorders.
The causes can range from bullying, peer pressure, education pressure, society constraints, beauty standards and fear of missing out. Poverty, unemployment and low literacy levels are also sources of mental illness especially in adults.
Alcohol and drug and substance abuse, most prevalent in 18 to 29-year-olds, is the leading cause of mental illness, disability and even suicide. It is extremely disheartening to hear that one in ten people suffer from mental disorders, yet there is no sufficient budget for mental health.
One common misconception is that people with mental illness are violent. Only 3 to 5 percent of violence can be attributed to individuals with serious mental illness. This stigma is what drives the victims to feel resentful towards themselves and drown in an abyss of self-loathing, meaning they cannot even seek medical assistance due to the crippling fear of society.
The fact that suicide due to mental illness is the third leading cause of death in 15 to 19-year-olds is a wakeup call. However, there is light at the end of the tunnel. Kenya has established a task force towards attaining the highest standards of mental health.
Claire Ngunyi, 16, is a Form Two student at St.David's Secondary School, Thika.
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