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Medics call for urgent action to end mental health stigma

Murang’a health practitioners have called upon society to end the stigma associated with mental illnesses by avoiding derogatory terms when referring to the mentally ill.

The medics noted that mental illnesses are like other common illnesses, and many of them can be treated or managed to help patients lead productive lives. They called upon residents to end the existing stigma towards those who are affected by mental illnesses.

One of the medics, Mbuthia Wagoki, speaking as the county commemorated this year’s World Mental Health Day at Kigumo Market, stated that mental illnesses affect people from all walks of life, and reducing stigma would help those affected seek help.

He noted that at Murang’a Level Five Hospital, the Psychiatric Department handles over 50 mental health patients every day, with about a hundred of those being admitted for further treatment every month.

The medic called upon the public to seek professional assistance promptly so as to avoid the adverse effects of mental illnesses.

Wagoki explained that common signs of mental health are reduced productivity, eating disorders, mood swings, neglecting personal care, and violent behaviour, among others.

Lydia Wachira of Kamili Organisation, which is a non-governmental organisation that offers free mental health services, said that the support of family members is invaluable in treating mental illnesses.

“Mentally ill patients, like other patients, require the support and love of their family members, as it helps in the treatment and recovery,” she said, urging family members not to give up on their kin who are suffering from mental illnesses.

Kigumo Sub-County Deputy County Commissioner (DCC), Buxton Mayabi, encouraged people to seek treatment for mental illness, saying there are currently many triggers for mental illness and anyone could be affected.

“All people are constantly facing different challenges touching on their health, businesses, families, and finances, and all these could lead to mental illnesses,” Mayabi said.

The DCC cautioned people, especially the youth, against irresponsibly getting into debt, saying the inability to pay those debts could become a major stress factor.

“Loans have become very easily accessible, but if you can avoid debt, you should definitely avoid it, because if you have to borrow from one mobile lender to pay another, you are probably in trouble,” he said.

They observed that some mental illnesses were a result of the abuse of drugs and substances and urged the youth to avoid drugs and alcohol.

By Purity Mugo

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