Mental wellbeing of young people is so critical in their development. I have come to a realization that young people are living on the edge of a mental health abyss and this leads to poor mental, emotional, social and also physical dysfunction. Young people are totally unaware of mental problems arising among them as they are confined to surroundings with minimal to no mental or moral support from either families or institutions such as schools and religious settings. As far as education goes, the effort, time and money invested to educate young people should be comparable to the effort and time invested in raising mentally healthy individuals. Commitment from leaders, parents, schools and religious leaders is needed in awareness creation on mental health in communities as well as provision of the much needed support systems.
As a young researcher, I was privileged to participate in a research study on how young people between the ages of 14 and 24 engage with mental health science. From the experiences, it was evident that most young people are facing mental & psychosocial challenges but lack the resources and networks to be able to access the needed mental health services. . This made me realize the need to support in advocacy and promote mental health literacy. Establishment of programs in institutions where young people can access materials and information on mental health and wellness is important.
For these investments, there is a need to have voices from different stakeholders to shape the conversation. Voices from people with lived experience, leaders and young people who are affected. I believe progress begins from within. Let us break the silence and advocate for greater investments in youth mental health from creating awareness both digitally or by running campaigns on site. With improved awareness, more people will seek help which will serve to open up channels for improved access to mental health services. This will lead to a mentally healthy youth generation and a better bridge to the next generation. Mental health is me and you. Let us commit to speaking up.
Article written by Rosemary Wambui, Mental Health Advocate and Research Aide, African Population and Health Research Center (APHRC)