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Psychiatrist calls for mental health awareness

Faith Kimeu, a Psychiatrist based in Machakos has stressed the need to address mental health concerns in Machakos County in order to reduce cases of drug abuse, personality disorders, among other health implications.

Speaking to KNA at Machakos Level 5 hospital, Kimeu said that mental health ought to be addressed early, in order to increase awareness of the illness among people of all stages of life from childhood and adolescence, through adulthood.

“People of all ages are affected by mental illness. It is consequently critical to address mental health concerns at an early stage in order to minimize future implications for individuals,” said Kimeu.

Kimeu pointed out that it is difficult to detect mental health patients during early stages, making it impossible to effectively address the problem.

“Mental health is an issue that has not been well addressed since a person will not be aware of a problem until it is too late. Some people believe they are cursed or that it is just a product of peer pressure,” noted Kimeu.

She noted that the majority of mental health patients seek treatment at health institutions after their illness has worsened, thus prolonging the treatment and counselling session.

“Patients who visit the institution are mostly far gone in their condition in that they hear voices in their minds. When we first meet them, we must do many mental status procedures on them to determine the severity of the ailment and decide whether to treat them or refer them to counseling. We recommend some of them to rehabilitation clinics since their issues seem to have progressed too far,” noted Kimeu.

“Mental health affects the daily living of individuals, their relationships, and physical health. It also affects how we handle stress, relate to others, and make choices,” Kimeu noted.

The psychologist said that the number of mental health patients received at Machakos Level 5 varies on a daily basis.

“The number of patients we receive is unpredictable but not less than 1 and not more than 25 patients in a day,’’ said Kimeu.

She said that it is critical to exercise prudence and raise awareness about mental health in society since most patients find it expensive to go to rehabilitation. This is because the sole government-sponsored hospital is Mathare, and the other privately owned institutions charge exorbitant fees.

Kimeu explained that mental health refers to cognitive, behavioral, and emotional well-being and it is related to how people think, feel, and behave.

Kimeu outlined that there are different types of mental health conditions ranging from mood disorders (depression or bipolar), anxiety disorders (panic and phobias), personality disorders, psychotic disorders (schizophrenia), trauma-related disorders (such as post-traumatic stress disorder), and substance abuse disorders among other mental health disorders

Kimeu pointed out some of the common early warning signs of mental health include eating or sleeping too much or too little, having low or no energy, smoking, drinking, or using drugs more than usual, hearing voices or believing things that aren’t true, and having persistent thoughts and memories that you can’t get out of your head.

By Susan Musembi and Conceptah Isanya

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