A worrying trend of mental health issues and what we can do about it

Published: August 24, 2021

Killings. Suicide. Domestic violence. Police brutality. Troubled marriages. We could go on counting. Horrendous things are happening right, left and centre. The moment you switch on the TV, you want to put it off immediately. The news we see every day is a shred of clear evidence that it’s no longer business as usual. It’s time to act now, or, tomorrow will be too late.

When a country records 483 cases of suicide in only three months, we know that for sure, we are failing somewhere as a society. And, it all comes down to our state of mental health. Almost every day, we hear of bizarre stories where one kills their partner before committing suicide. Even the Kenyan police who are supposed to be serving us are turning against each other and against the very people they should be protecting. 

Covid-19 pandemic effect on our mental health

What becomes of a man who can no longer provide for his family because he has lost his job or business due to the current tough economic times? If he doesn’t know how to handle the stress, he might indulge in alcohol and substance abuse, promiscuity, or violent behaviour. He becomes irritable to the least of things and this can lead to family squabbles. I deal with such cases every now and then, especially since Covid-19 hit us.

Unlike the olden days when we were our brother’s keepers, these days you handle your business alone. As we love to say, what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas. We killed the culture of speaking out and reaching out to friends and extended family for help. We act strong while we soak our pillows with tears every night. Why? We are afraid of being labelled as weak, cowardly, unmanly, and God knows what other terms people who fuel mental health stigma use!

Society role in addressing mental health issues

We cannot afford to lose more lives. Even though things seem thick, we must at least try. You and me. All of us. One very simple thing we can do is being our brother’s keeper. If we all make an effort to check on each other from time to time, it will encourage people to talk. On the other hand, when we are all focused on our personal lives and forget about others, and they do the same, slowly, we start drifting apart.  Before you know it, a close friend or relative is wallowing in depression. Another one is into alcoholism. And, another kills their family members and vanishes into thin air. It’s sickening!

The other thing we can do is to take charge of our mental health. Make it a priority to take care of your mental health just like you do with your physical health. While you may not avoid stress completely, learn how to handle it as it comes. Talk to someone about your worries and struggles. It could be a friend, a religious leader, or a therapist. Just don’t keep quiet if you need help. Difficult times can make you believe that nobody cares. But far from it, there’s someone willing to help. There’s someone who cares and they would rather listen to your story than type “RIP” on your timeline when you are gone. BUT, they won’t know what you are battling unless you speak up. 

If you forget everything else in this piece, and I hope that you don’t, please remember; to be your brother’s keeper and to prioritize your mental health. These two things are super simple but can yield impressive results. 

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