Kenya has been ranked 9th in the world for the highest number of depressed people.
The recent amount of suicides has also risen greatly. We hear about mental health all the time.
But do you actually know what it means?
Mental Health Awareness
Most people’s picture of a mentally ill person is usually one of two things. Either they are crazy and disillusioned or they are disoriented and confused.
Take for example, depression.
It would be very hard to understand why someone just cannot seem to be happy. Don’t we all go through tough times and get over it? Depression however is a mood disorder that involves a persistent feeling of sadness and loss of interest. It is different from the mood fluctuations that people regularly experience as a part of life.
Mental illnesses affects how we think, feel and act. How we handle stress, relate to others and how we make choices can also change as a result. Abnormal behavior does not have to be anything absurd.
It can take form as a talkative person who suddenly does not feel like engaging other people at all, sleeping too much or too little, or even random outbursts over small issues. Such changes in our behavior, however small, can usually can mean a greater underlying problem.
Key signs of mental illness are found in our behavior and drastic changes in emotions.
Symptoms can vary from person to person but they can include; excessive fear, extreme mood changes, withdrawal from friends and activities, problems with alcohol or drug use, excessive anger, hostility, violence and suicidal thinking.
Having one or two of these symptoms does not mean you automatically have a mental illness but it could indicate that there is a bigger underlying problem to be addressed. Especially if the symptoms are recurrent.
While mental illnesses can occur due to triggers such as stress, going through something traumatic like an accident, abuse or a brain injury, others may occur due to family genes and chemical imbalances. Mental illnesses come in many forms.
There are anxiety disorders, mood disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder and psychotic disorders. A psychological therapist can help identify which exact illness you may be suffering from and the available treatment options for it.
Not many people know what resources are available for them in regards to their mental health. Most people turn to alcohol, sleep or food which are not very healthy ways of dealing with stress or mental illnesses. They might even make things worse and develop into addictions that become a life long struggle to overcome.
So where can you go for help? There are organizations that you can call for mental health related help like Befrienders Kenya 0722178177 and Niskize 0900620800. The government of Kenya also has a helpline, 1199 that you can call for help.
Take care of your mental health the same way you would take care of your physical health. If you have a broken leg, would you leave it for later or sleep it off? Most probably you would not.
You would take care of it immediately. That is the same urgency you should give your mental health. Don’t wait until it’s too late. The time to take action is now. Mental illness need not define your life.
It is not a condition to be embarrassed or ashamed of. The quicker you get help, the faster you will be to living a fulfilled and happy life!