Mental health is an emerging issue in the global health space and in my opinion, it should be considered a critical health concern among Kenyans. Mental illnesses can be associated with criminal activity, immorality and substance abuse among young people. The effects of mental health are adversely affecting the society with the highest peak being in urban centers. To curb these, there is a growing interest and need for mental health awareness to educate individuals on the possible positive coping mechanisms including ways to promote their mental health.
The government and stakeholders can help to establish mentally healthy societies by engaging in the following;
- Equipping all health facilities with health service providers trained in the provision of comprehensive mental health services ranging from education to psychosocial counselling and treatment.
- Develop, publish and rollout a curriculum on Mental Health to be delivered to the youth and adolescents in and out of school by trained specialists.
- Organize and undertake regular nationwide campaigns on mental health for persons of all demographics on widely accessible media.
- Provide information and education on mental health in a way accessible to persons living with disabilities.
Some of the drivers of mental ill health include unemployment, work pressure, low living standards, long study period for learners, emergence of some untreatable diseases among others. When dealing with diseases such as diabetes, being a chronic disease, it leads to mental distress associated with high cost of care, as well as the burden of taking medicines for a lifetime. Such strain can push family members to extremes including criminal activities to fend for their loved ones. With long study hours among students in learning institutions it leads to boredom and may result to some students losing interest in academic with poor performance. This leads to psychological problems and a vicious cycle. Due to peer pressure some students are lured into substance abuse with the hope of boosting their academic capabilities and focus in school further exacerbating their challenges.
In order to overcome mental health issues as a nation we need to put more attention in addressing the contributing factors and supporting a socially responsible society. We hope to have a society where everyone cares for each other without bias or prejudice.