Relationships & Mental Health: Ryculture #BonfireChat Conversation Series

Preamble:

Ryculture Health and Social Innovation hosted its third Bonfire Chat on 5th July 2019 at Juja Botanical Gardens with focus on the impact of relationships on mental health. The guest speaker for the session was Ms. Wanjiku Ngetha, a counselor with Mentoring for Life (MFL).

Participants pose for a photo at the end of the chat by the fireplace. Photo credits: @PlanetWizard

The discussion was aimed at;

  1. discussing the issues young people face in relationships

  2. establishing the correlation between the challenges in relationships and mental health

  3. postulating measures to help young people cope with the stresses in relationships and prevent them from developing mental health conditions

This session was part of the Ryculture Bonfire Conversation Series aimed at promoting open conversations on issues affecting the youth and societies.

Narration

The discussions were conducted in the form of open contributions as prescribed by the Ryculture #BonfireChat series i.e. opening introductions from all those in attendance, sharing of experiences from participants with relationships and their general feel about the same, challenges in relationships and coping mechanisms they are considering or believe are important in such. This was followed with an exposition from the guest speaker Ms. Wanjiku Ngetha.

The overall feel among the participants was that relationships are currently not tenable as there are financially motivated. Mostly ladies were considered to have the inclination to consider relationships with financially stable men which puts undue pressure on young men especially those still in the university with no stable source of income to hustle to meet the demands. Social influences such as the class and the experiences of peers in their relationships have a way of influencing how individuals act in their relationships. In most cases this doesn’t auger well with one of the partners and strains the relationship.

Infidelity and sexual promiscuity is a norm among young people and with most young people viewing themselves to be liberal, there is little value for stable relationships for as long as one finds the relationship convenient to them. This was stipulated to be the case in the recently reported suicide cases where one partner cheats on the other who is hurt because of this.

Most relationships are also not defined at start and therefore most young people are in relationships in which they don’t know what the other partner wants or what their expectations are. This makes them walk on egg shells as nobody is ready to make the bold move and put their point across. These types of relationships have people tagging each other along which end up in breakups which are catastrophic to either of the partners.

Ongoing discussion on relationships & mental health during the #BonfireChat

Another key concern was that most young people rush into relationships for the convenience of being in relationships without knowing themselves. The relationship becomes their anchor. However, the challenge comes in when they lose themselves as the relationship was not founded on principle and as such is an arrangement of convenience. One partner may end up being abused emotionally, physically or psychologically without any due regard for what they want especially considering they identify with the relationship.

When relationships face such strains, individuals involved become stressed which affects their response to conditions around them. Some have their functioning impaired as they lose a sense of identity, some suffer from the hurt in different ways and may transfer the bitterness to those around them or their work. Some especially those in school may skip classes over the period, have poor performances and at times even drop out of school as they get devastated. These are aspects of the consequence of relationships to mental health.

Healthy relationships on the other hand ground partners, give them a sense of meaning in life and enable them to thrive in whatever they do. They become productive, supportive and high functioning when their relationships are thriving for there is a sense of security which is important for human living.

Ms. Wanjiku Ngetha discussed the concerns around relationships and through the discussion, the key influencers which as young people we have to embrace to have stable healthy relationships are:

  1. We need to become self-aware and have principles on which our lives should be rooted on

  2. We should be bold enough to speak our thoughts, feelings and expectations in our relationships. Open communications pave way for healthy relationships with mutual understanding.

  3. Relationships need to be defined from start to help protect each other from the devastation that may ensue when expectations and hopes aren’t met

  4. As young people we need not be inclined to comply with social pressures of life and imitation of other people’s lifestyles and life choices.

  5. We need to embrace and anchor each other within and without relationships.

  6. We should not act based on prejudices in relationships, instead we need to be open to learn and grow in them.

  7. We have to embrace that finances are an important aspect of relationships. Everyone wants a good life and that comes with the financial ability to meet your needs. It should however not be the only thing but will always have an influence however much we try to refute it on principle.