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 behavioural adjustment”.

Have you heard about Mental Health?

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.

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 stigmatisation?

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 health social enterprise called My Mind, My Funk and 22214, which is Kenya’s free mental health SMS help line. 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.

Is it possible to crowd fund 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 its 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.

There are over 200 classified types of mental disorders. The most common ones however, are clinical depression, PTSDbipolar disorderanxiety disorders, schizophrenia and ADHD.

In your own words, what’s the most depressing thing about life and why?

Kenya’s mental health policy estimates that about 25% of out patients and about 40% of in-patients suffer from mental health conditions. The most frequent diagnosis of mental illnesses made in general hospital settings are 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 crises.

This is my Mental Health Story. What’s Yours?

Africa Mental Health Foundation seek 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 centre 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 policy makers as well as the integration of different disciplines such as psychiatry, counselling, clinical psychology, nursing, human rights, health economics, anthropology, social science among many more. They align their approach on the MhGAP Intervention Guide and the WHO Mental Health Action Plan 2013-2014.

See the full list with more resources here from Hapa Kenya:

Places where one can access mental health resources in Kenya