Feeling disappointed, sad and depressed after the long Obon holidays? Health experts have observed that mental health crises tend to escalate after festivals.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), one in four Kenyans seeking medical care has a mental health condition, with depression being the most common.
Dr. Jeffrey Wango, Senior Lecturer in Counseling Psychology at the University of Nairobi, said most cases of mental illness such as anxiety, stress, depression and suicide reported in February, March, April, May and June. and will be reported in December. Recorded the fewest cases.
According to Wango, even though people are depressed in December, they tend to be more relaxed thanks to festivals as they meet loved ones and share lovely moments.
In January, the source of stress is established. For example, they go back to work and need money to pay their bills.
He says a lot of people spend more money than they earn. Also, many adults in the age group from 25 to he 50 start new relationships in December, but they don’t last.
“People spend more money in December, but in January, landlords hover over mansions of people feasting and asking for rent. It starts happening in February,” says Dr. Wango.
But Lukoe Atwori, professor of psychiatry and president of the Aga Khan University School of Medicine in East Africa, said the mental illness cases were not associated with any particular cluster during the month.
Professor Atwari, who was a member of the task force appointed by former President Uhuru Kenyatta to investigate mental health issues in 2019, said that people do not report suicides or attempted suicides because of stigma, so the current statistics are He says he can’t be trusted.
According to him, the only way to get accurate statistics is to allow people to talk freely about their triggers and attempts at suicide.
A mental health expert who is also executive director of the African Psychiatrist Association says decriminalizing suicide should be a national priority first.
“The data we have is just the tip of the ice bag. We must support decriminalization efforts. We need to retract it and get the public to share accurate statistics,” said Professor Atwoli.
Common mental illnesses in Kenya include depression, suicide, substance use disorders, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia and other mental illnesses, according to the Mental Task Force.
Kenya reported 421 deaths by suicide in 2018, according to the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS).
The WHO estimates that 1,408 people die by suicide each year, equivalent to 4 people every day.
Worldwide, 703,000 people die by suicide each year. This means that on average he commits one suicide every 45 seconds.
Professor Atwari believes that relationship conflicts are the cause of some people’s suicide. It can also be the result of untreated mental illness. Suicide, he says, is usually the end result for many depressed patients who do not receive treatment.
People with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder also attempt suicide in their lives if their illness is not treated or addressed. Also, people with chronic illnesses may attempt suicide.
In addition, social situations also drive people to suicide. For example, losing a loved one, a job, or something important.
“There are multiple reasons why certain people attempt suicide, and they’re not concentrated at any particular time of the year,” says Atwoli.
Wango attributes cases of mental illness to social and economic pressures.
For example, 32-year-old Beatriz Mutoni, a temporary hardware worker in the town of Gilgil, has been grieving for two weeks after being unable to pay the rent for her one-bedroom house.
Mutoni has used up her savings to buy Christmas for her family.
“I have decided to turn off my cell phone. Whenever it is on, my family calls me for financial assistance, but I have no money. I don’t believe anyone,” says the mother of three.
Wango groups mental illness into demographics. Among teenagers, the triggers are primarily relationships and peer pressure, he says.
He also says many teenagers are affected by exam results.
For those aged 15 to 35, mental illness is the result of poor decisions, ego, and an inability to achieve life goals, says Wango.
However, in the old age of 60 to 65 years old, stagnation and depression are triggered, and you can not realize what you want to do.
“Suicide is not a momentary event. It’s a process like a plane taking off. Before dying from suicide, a person experiences stress, frustration, disappointment, depression, and then decides to commit suicide,” says Dr. Wango. .
Professor Godric Matthews Brittier, vice-chancellor of Academic and Student Affairs at Masai Mara University and human resources expert, says workplace counseling is key to dealing with mental health ailments.
Professor Burtia said that common mental illnesses among employees include cases caused by depression, stress, anxiety and financial constraints, while in students it is caused by unhealthy relationships and peer pressure. says.
“I have an employee who takes teenagers to school, needs to own a home, and is socially stigmatized at home. His wife urges him to buy a home. The problem is that they are prone to depression and anxiety, and some even choose to commit suicide,” he says.
According to Bulitia, students’ freshmen enter a free environment in which parents play no role. Because of their freedom, students tend to get into unhealthy relationships, which results in some becoming depressed, some killing each other, and some even committing suicide.
Many students tend to be influenced by their peers. For example, they learn to consume alcohol, use drugs, and die by suicide when overwhelmed.
As a mitigation measure, institutions should set up mentoring programs specifically for mentoring new students, he said.
Other mitigation measures include providing sanitary towels to needy students.
“It’s important to define rules for students from the day you report them. Have clear disciplinary procedures, extra curricular activities, and avoid idling in school to curb mental illness,” the dean advised. increase.
Workplaces should set up welfare centers to manage employee issues, including financial, health and social welfare, he said.
Also, for a quality life after retirement, employers should provide post-retirement services.
A variety of ailments such as hearing loss, cataracts, refractive errors, back and neck pain, osteoarthritis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, diabetes, depression, and dementia occur in old age, so employees should take care of their health. You need medical insurance to receive
To combat mental illness, Professor Atwari is advising the government to fully implement his task force report.
The task force produced the Mental Health Act signed into law by President Kenyatta last year.
This law recognizes the right of people with mental illness to lead productive lives.
Another recommendation was to increase mental services resources so that more people could access them. But according to Atwoli, its implementation has been slow.
“My hope is that going forward, both national and county governments will have resources in place for mental health,” he said.
“People with untreated mental illness cost billions of shillings in lost productivity. Mental health needs to be at the center of the plan as this government is looking to improve the economy to be more productive.”
He says the fight against mental health extends to promotion, prevention, treatment and rehabilitative care.
Atwari says health promotion includes eating healthy, exercising, getting enough sleep, and avoiding lifestyle issues such as excessive alcohol consumption, tobacco use, and substance use.
Mental health prevention requires proactive measures to reduce mental illness. For example, when a child becomes pregnant, make sure the mother is eating a healthy diet and the child is born with an assistant health provider to prevent early childhood illnesses that can affect brain development, Make sure your child lives in a healthy environment free of abuse and violence.
“Early diagnosis prevents the complications of mental illness by providing services at the community level. All health workers should be able to identify early signs of mental illness, intervene early, and provide mental health care. You have to have the skills to refer people in need,” said Atwoli.
Healing requires having facilities closer to the public. Every county needs a psychiatrist and a mental health unit where someone can get outpatient and inpatient mental health care, he says.
Rehabilitation services, on the other hand, need to help patients acquire lifestyle skills and reintegrate into the community.
Douglas Ogolla, Ph.D., CEO of the Human Resources Professional Examination Board, said many employees in the workplace are experiencing an increase in cases of mental illness such as depression, suicide and anxiety. Health has become an important topic of discussion these days. and stress.
Ogolla believes the goals and deadlines set for his employees are the cause of his mental illness, which makes him anxious.
“So many companies are competing and scaling back. Many are adopting lean staff – lean structures with fewer people – but the demand for jobs remains the same. ’ he says.
According to Ogolla, many employees lack financial discipline, spending too little money during festivities and suffering from depression in January due to increased responsibilities such as paying school fees and rent. fall into
To address some of the mental challenges in the workplace, HR experts say organizations should adopt some of HR best practices, such as implementing employee assistance programs. These programs include placing financial advisors, setting up Sacco for savings, and providing soft loans to employees.
Employers can also establish annual programs for their employees, adds Ogolla. This may include providing counseling services to help you deal with life and work challenges.
“A savings culture should be embraced by staff. You can also start staff welfare programs and come up with wellness activities such as sports to manage mental health issues,” Ogolla advised. increase.