June 2, 2021

Summary

1-in-4 Kenyans are likely to suffer a mental health disorder according to the World Health Organization.

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Your Mental Health Should be your Number One Priority

Your Mental Health Should be your Number One Priority

How do you feel about yourself today? How are you really coping with life especially during this Covid-19 pandemic? Are you taking good care of your mental health? What is so important to you,what do you value the most?

Personally, my greatest asset is my own sanity! Yes my peace of mind supersedes anything that this world can offer and anytime I feel that this part of my life is being taken away from me by anyone or any situation; I choose me first!

The greatest wealth that each of us has is the wellness of our mental health. It allows us to function at full capacity but sadly so many of us walk around pretending to be ok yet deep down, we are struggling with some mental issues that could be as a result of:

• Depression
• Stress
• Anxiety
• Personality Disorders
• Post -Traumatic Stress Disorder( PTSD)
• Bipolar Disorder

1-in-4 Kenyans are likely to suffer a mental health disorder according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

Mental health specialists advise that if you are experiencing challenges on how you perceive things, how you feel about people and things or love to be in isolation; then you might be having some mental health challenges.

In a recent interview with NBC news, Prince Harry opened up about his own struggles with Mental Health. Harry said that “So many of us, probably 99.9% of us, are carrying around some form of unresolved grief, trauma or loss.” He pointed that he was keen on using his platform to reach out to those living with unresolved traumas to end the stigma associated with mental health illnesses which are not so often spoken of.

There are so many risk factors and stressors that contribute to mental health disorders. For instance;

1) Death of a loved one -This could lead to a very tough mental trauma and someone trying to hide pain yet the replay of every event that led to the death of their dear one keeps a constant reminder of this reality!

2) Unmet expectations -We have all been constantly let down by people we didn’t expect! It also becomes frustrating when people don’t treat us the same way we treat them.

3) Failed relationships/marriage/divorce – the fear of starting from scratch/rock bottom or being the laughing stock of society takes a toll on our mental health and it could lead us to making wrong choices because at that moment our mental health is usually at stake.

4) Frustrations-pressure at home or at the workplace and the fear of losing your job hence not being able to provide for your family cost us our peace of mind.

5) Anxiety-leading to suicidal thoughts. My friend Pauline who is a mother of three amazing kids found herself in an unstable emotional state. Her marriage to the father of her kids had ended and she was not getting any support from him. She was always feeling sad, empty and hopeless even in the midst of a crowd.

One weekend she sought her friends’ permission to allow her to use their office space for the weekend. And so on a Friday evening after work, she headed to the City, her friends handed her the office keys and bid her goodbye not knowing that this was going be one long weekend for her. She locked herself in the office and switched off her mobile phone from Friday evening to Monday morning and the only time she went out of the room was to go answer the call of nature! She wanted to avoid all human contacts and get away from her children because she did not want to hear the cry of her babies. She didn’t want to see the light, didn’t want to shower or eat and all she did was bury herself in her work and forget about the universe! At one moment she just wanted to die but she couldn’t because she had a responsibility to her children.

We all have a role to play!

Last year, the Kenyan Government established a Mental Health Taskforce that has been at the forefront of implementing suggested reforms that will gear up improved care for people with mental health issues through clinical and preventive interventions.

Speak up- let someone know what’s really going on, it’s OK not to be OK. Seek counselling or get an evaluation of your mental health done by a mental health professional, they won’t judge you because they listen. In most occasions all we need as we battle with our mental health is a listening ear.Let go of the shame that maybe you’re going crazy in the next minute! You still owe yourself the courage to stand up for yourself and face the world.

Society should be kind! We should be careful with our language of communication. Don’t be quick to always tell men to “Man-up” because men rarely talk about their mental health issues.

Be your own anchor! Take care of your own mental health because failure to do that will lead to unforeseen mental illnesses that could have been prevented. Just because you choose to take care of your mental health does not imply that you have some mental illness, it means that you have prioritised self love and are intentional in the choices you make for your own life, the way you manage your relationships and most importantly, how you handle daily stresses.
By putting yourself in a safer emotional and psychological well-being, you are able to make informed decisions.

Yesterday I caught up with an old friend over lunch. Miriam has been one of those friends who became family. I had met her in the year 2009 when I joined the company she was working for as a Sales and Marketing executive.

As we enjoyed our sumptuous pilau, I sought to know how she was coping with her new job. She just got employed as a cashier in one of the best private healthcare facilities in the country and that should be something exciting to talk about but to my surprise, I looked at my friend’s eyes through her beautiful glasses and all I could see was a sad face and moisty lenses! She sighed and put her plate aside.

At the onset of the outbreak of Covid-19, Miriam lost her job. She was working as Personal assistant to the general manager in one of the five star hotels in Nairobi. Life took an unexpected twist on her and the majority of us. Since then, it has been tough for her to watch the sun rise and set. Every single day, he pandemic took a toll on her and swept clean her bank account.

Being the hard working girl that she is, she resolved to sell groceries just to be able to feed her family and pay school fees for her two children. Life has been a thorn in the flesh for her and so when the opportunity presented itself for her to make an extra coin, she decided to give it a try; let’s just say that desperation can lead people into places and situations they never knew they would find themselves in.

As we speak, Miriam’s unmet expectations of her current employer and work environment has taken a toll on her mental health and lately, she wakes up in the morning wondering where she is going yet she has a job to go to. Before we were halfway with our meals, she had told me that she had resigned from her position as a cashier because she could not take it anymore.

It takes great courage for people to own their story and love themselves through the process. Life can be difficult for anyone but no matter what you are facing, it is important to choose a positive mindset and learn to promote a positive mental health by living a healthy lifestyle through investing in your physical and emotional well-being, being more engaging socially and this could lead to improved and better productivity at the workplace, help create meaningful relationships with loved ones, which in turn will result to an improved quality of life.

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