Mental health is a level of psychological well-being or an absence of a mental disorder; it is the “psychological state of someone who is functioning at a satisfactory level of emotional and behavioral adjustment”. Diagnosed with epilepsy and bipolar disorder, rape survivor, Sitawa Wafula was inspired to launch Kenya’s first free mental wellness and epilepsy support line.
Many of us may not even understand what that means. Perhaps we have taken the subject as a complex idea such that we do not know how to begin conversations regarding mental health even when the people we love are faced with mental illness.
Have you Heard about Mental Health?
On: August 18, 2015, Fatuma’s Voice partnered with Relate Kenya to spark this talk.
- How do we face the reality of mental illness when it hits home?
- Who do we first approach for help?
- What are the signs?
- What is the basic information we need to grasp regarding this subject?
- How can we reduce stigmatization?
Sitawa Wafula – My Mind, My Funk
Sitawa Wafula of #MyMindMyFunk shall also be joining us alongside an array of poets and musicians to keep us educated and entertained. Tag a friend along. This is worth your attention.
Sitawa is a three-time award-winning mental health and epilepsy crusader and blogger. She runs a mental wellness social enterprise called My Mind, My Funk, and 22214, which is Kenya’s free mental health SMS helpline. Some of her awards include Google Africa Connected Winner in 2014, 2013 Activist of the Year, and 2013 East Africa Youth Philanthropist. Read more about Sitawa at Amani Institute.
The intersection of technology and new media has redefined our understanding of human progress. In the midst of this rapidly changing world, the Social Good Summit focuses on where we’re headed.
Held annually during the United Nations General Assembly week, the Summit unites a lively community of global citizens and progressive thought leaders around a common theme: #2030NOW.
Elisha London, Founder, and CEO of United for Global Mental Health, speaks with Sitawa Wafula, Founder and Executive Director of My Mind, My Funk, about bringing mental health awareness and support across the globe.
Is it possible to crowdfund a mental health support group in Nairobi that can be easily accessible by the public for free without the help of the government? If yes any suggestions on how we can achieve this?
Update on Mental Health Resources from Hapa Kenya:
According to WHO, depression is the leading cause of disability worldwide and it is estimated that about 300 million people globally suffer from it. Depression is often conflated with sadness as the symptoms can be quite similar. However, the two are quite different, whereas the former is a clinically diagnosed mood disorder, the latter is a case of the blues that lifts after a short time or goes away with some cheering up.
The symptoms of major depression or clinical depression as it is sometimes referred to, are a persistent feeling of sadness and loss of interest that you previously enjoyed. The symptoms can also manifest themselves physically by altering your sleep patterns. It can either cause you to sleep too much or lack of sleep, cause changes in your appetite and in some cases lead to inexplicable aggression.
The feeling of worthlessness can sometimes drive those suffering from it to suicide. For it to be considered major depression, the feeling needs to last longer than two weeks and be diagnosed by a psychiatrist.
Kenya’s mental health policy estimates that about 25% of outpatients and about 40% of in-patients suffer from mental health conditions. The most frequent diagnosis of mental illnesses made in general hospital settings is depression, substance abuse, stress and anxiety disorders.
Mental health in Kenya is grossly underfunded, forcing most of those suffering from it to seek private treatment which is very costly. In cases where they cannot afford to seek treatment, they continue to suffer from the debilitating effects of mental illness. Kenya is among countries listed by WHO as one of the countries lacking a separate health budget for mental health.
Fortunately, there are some affordable mental health resources that one can use either to help them gain a better understanding of what mental health is or to navigate through a mental health crisis. Check out BetterHelp to discover how affordable online counseling from licensed professionals can help support you through your mental health journey.
Africa Mental Health Foundation
Africa Mental Health Foundation seeks to take mental health to the level of the individual and the family; to their homes or to the nearest point of care such as the community dispensary, health center, or outreach point. They take a cross-sectional, multi-disciplinary, and multi-stakeholder approach that seeks to identify and engage with all community stakeholders and all community physical and human resources who have contact with people with mental disorders.
This involves both formal and informal sector administrators, opinion leaders, and policymakers as well as the integration of different disciplines such as psychiatry, counseling, clinical psychology, nursing, human rights, health economics, anthropology, social science among many more. They align their approach to the MhGAP Intervention Guide and the WHO Mental Health Action Plan 2013-2014.
Places where one can access mental health resources in Kenya
1. Amani Counselling Center
Amani is located on Mbagathi Rd, the center describes their facility as a one that provides counselling support in the areas of depression, anxiety, challenges in personal relationships and addictions. They are a faith-based organisation and are located in Nyeri, Kisumu, Mombasa and Ugunja as well.
2. Befrienders Kenya
Befrienders Kenya is an NGO that specializes in education about mental health. They have a blog that defines the different types of mental illnesses and how to identify them. In addition to that, they have a hotline that one can call when experiencing feelings of self harm and a trained counselor can help you navigate the crisis and provide emotional support. The numbers are +254736542304 or +254722178177.
I heard about this app on Twitter and those who’ve used it say it manages to help them slow down and take a breather when they feel stressed or anxious. It can also help you fall asleep faster if you’re having trouble doing so. It is available for free download on Google Play Store and App Store: Calm
4. PPD Island
PPD (Postpartum Depression) Island is site that offers resources such as free PPD tests, information on its signs and stages and the treatment options available. Postpartum depression is a form of depression that occurs a week to a month after childbirth and can affect both sexes. The causes are unclear but a previous history of depression, hormonal changes after birth and the emotional toll of a new baby have been speculated to contribute to its onset.
5. Still a mum
Still A Mum is an NGO that supports parents who have lost children to miscarriages, stillbirth and infant death. They offer one-on-counseling, physical support groups as well as WhatsApp support groups (for people outside Nairobi). These services are run by professional counselors. Still A Mum also has a blog with content on healing after loss and how to support a friend who has lost a child.
You can reach them on +254723220063/+254743708336 or email [email protected]. They are also accessible on social media.
You can also reach out to someone you can trust and who cares about you when you feel overwhelmed.
See the full list with more resources here from Hapa Kenya