Residents urged to reach out to the mentally ill

Counties Editor's Pick Health Nyamira

Nyamira county residents have been urged to reach out with support, love and medical care to mentally ill community members.

Ms. Isabella, Mireri, the nurse in charge of mental health at Nyamira Referral Hospital made this appeal Monday during an event to mark world mental health day at the facility noting that mental illness is best managed by those who interact with the patient on a regular basis.

She observed that majority of patients suffering from mental illnesses in the region are neglected, discriminated against and mistreated by family and community, which is a contrast to how the community supports and cares for patients suffering from other ailments.

“Mental illness can be caused by inherited traits whereby a family has a history of mental illness which is passed down to younger generations. It can also be caused by environmental exposure before birth where exposure to environmental stressors, toxins or drugs is sometimes linked to mental illness or it can be caused by brain chemistry in situations where brain neurotransmitters are impaired disrupting the normal functioning of body nerve receptors and systems leading to depression and emotional disorders.” Ms. Mireri explained.

The mental health nurse advised residents to stop associating mental illness with witchcraft or family curses because it is treatable at the hospital and further encouraged residents who are still not seeking medication for their ailing relatives or family members to go for medical attention because mental disease is treatable and can be easily managed when patients take their medication consistently.

Agnes Chaguro from Magwagwa ward in Nyamira County told KNA that she started experiencing mental illness in 2008 when it manifested itself as epilepsy. She sought medical assistance in several hospitals to no avail until she was referred to the mental health clinic at Nyamira in 2015 where she started medication that has worked wonders in her life because her sudden seizures stopped.

Another patient, Robert Momanyi from Nyamira township ward said he started getting sick four years back whereby he could walk in people’s compounds at night, untie their cows and start grazing them without their consent. He was brought to Nyamira referral hospital mental health department where he was put on medication to which he is responding well.

Ms. Zipporah Mathiri, a clinician on mental health and psychiatry at Nyamira hospital said they have 1600 mental health patients who visit the hospital clinic for regular check-ups. She further disclosed that the majority of patients who visit the hospital ranging from children to old people are depressed, suicidal and experiencing epileptic seizures.

The nurse in charge of mental health, Ms. Mireri appealed to Nyamira residents and beyond to support people living with mental illness by helping them access mental health services, treating them with respect, avoiding calling them names, and always share facts about mental health openly so that both the infected and affected people will start accepting their conditions and willingly seek appropriate help.

During the occasion, the patients suffering from mental illnesses marked world mental awareness day by having a peaceful walk in Nyamira town to demonstrate to residents that they are just like any other patients and need to be taken care of. This year’s theme was; ‘Make mental health and well-being for all a global priority”.

By Deborah Bochere

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