Machakos County Assembly Speaker Florence Mwangangi has emphasized on the need for parents to be on the lookout so as to spot behavioural fluctuations in their children that may be related to mental health and find appropriate means of helping them.
Speaking with the media in Machakos town, Mwangangi pointed out that withdrawal from doing the normal activities was one of the common signs of mental health and parents should be on the lookout to notice any changes.
Mwangangi said that college students were highly exposed to mental health illness but their parents are not aware. She identified stress as the main cause of mental health illness in Machakos.
She mentioned that most of the suicide cases and murder related issues that have become rampant in universities and colleges were as a result of mental health illness caused by stress.
“We have encountered many suicide cases in the colleges. Most people think of death as a solution when faced with challenges that they are unable to handle as an individual. Most college students have been found dead and others kill their fellow students when stress overwhelms them,” said Mwangangi.
She added that the mental health illness not only affects the youth but also the elderly and the struggles and symptoms related to it could make the victims feel ashamed of seeking medication.
Mwangangi indicated that joblessness among the youth and the older people in the society comes in handy with frustrations caused by lack of basic needs and idleness.
She said that the government is making efforts to come up with projects that would engage the youths and other people in the society to stem off joblessness in the society.
“Most of the people in the society lack jobs and this makes them frustrated on how to provide for themselves and their families. The government is working on establishing projects that will accommodate most of the youths in the society to reduce issues of joblessness,” added Mwangangi.
The Speaker also requested every individual in Machakos to open up about stress and share with others about their issues.
She said individuals should find a way of avoiding stress from escalating into mental illness through identifying individuals in the society who could help them address their issues.
“People should be able to open up about their issues in society. The youths should find people to whom they can talk to when they encounter difficulties in the society,” noted Mwangangi.
Mwangangi urged the church to work together with the people of Machakos to strengthen spiritual beliefs among the people.
She said that being able to understand the knowledge of God and the importance of life gives individuals hope for a better life besides helping individuals endure stress and temptations with the hope of getting better.
“The church is a vital institution when it comes to dealing with mental health issues. Religious leaders should help in mentoring and enriching the spiritual aspect of life to the people of Machakos,” added Mwangangi.
The Speaker however recognized the efforts of the Ministry of Health in spreading mental health awareness in the country.
She added that the mental health community has helped a lot of people recover from mental health through giving them hope and assuring them that they are not alone.
“The Ministry of Health has been on the move, offering mental health awareness education. The doctors and experts have tried to express the need for people to help others deal with stress,” added the Speaker.
Earlier in August, a 17-year-old boy from Mumbuni Secondary School in Machakos County committed suicide by hanging himself with a belt in their home residence.
However, the parents of the deceased, 17-year-old boy said that the boy seemed okay and had no signs of stress. This shows it was an underlying issue that he had not divulged to his parents or friends.
Last year, another incidence of murder and suicide had also been reported in Matungulu Sub County in Machakos where a couple, Dennis Pius, 28 years, and his girlfriend Susan Ndeto 19, were found hanging with ropes around their necks by their parents.
The neighbours said the couple seemed okay and they were seen chatting happily only to mute inside their two-bedroom house later in the day.
Kithuani Assistant Chief Sarah Mutua said the reason for them committing suicide was yet to be known.
Machakos has been one of the Counties that have been hit hard by mental health illness and that the stigma associated with mental health makes it difficult for some individuals to freely seek medication.
Mwangangi therefore asked the society at large to make initiatives of addressing mental health to curb mental related tragedies including suicide and murder.
By Ann Kangero and Conceptah Isanya