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Unemployment, drug abuse accelerating mental health

Unemployment, pressure to perform in school, drug abuse, exposure to social media, and human rights violations have been singled out as major factors leading to mental health cases among youth aged between 15-24 years in Kenya.

A Director from the National Authority for Campaign Against Alcohol and Drug Abuse (NACADA), Dr. Lucia Kamanthe Nzoongo, said this on Saturday at Green Park in Wote town while addressing participants who took part in a 5-kilometer walk that was geared towards creating awareness about mental health in Makueni County.

Consequently, she called upon the Makueni County Government to employ more psychologists who will treat people in the county who are suffering from mental problems, besides creating awareness about mental health in the area.

“From our research, we have established that unemployment, drug abuse, pressure to perform in schools, exposure to social media, and violations of human rights are factors aggravating mental health cases in society,” said Nzoongo.

The 5-kilometer walk was flagged off officially by Red Cross Eastern Region Manager Patience Gitonga, who appealed to the residents to come out and speak about the challenges they face due to mental health so that they could access professional counseling besides getting treatment.

At the same time, Gitonga said that one can use the toll-free number to reach out to professional help from counselors and medics, who will assist them accordingly.

“This walk has created space for the residents of Makueni to come out in large numbers and speak about challenges affecting them and also get professional help from counselors around them through an online toll-free number, 1199,” said Gitonga.

 During the event, students from Makueni Boys High, Nthangu Secondary, Unoa and Mwaani Primary Schools, and Wote Technical Training Institute took part, along with over 300 members of the public.

On his part, Dr. Joseph Masila, who is in-charge of Mental Health at Makueni County Referral Hospital, challenged Makueni residents to go to health facilities and seek treatment for mental health, among other services.

The event was sponsored by the Red Cross, NACADA, Equity Bank Wote Branch, Madison Group, Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC), Kilimani Resort, Ngooni Super Market Wote Branch, and county and National governments.

By Patrick Nyakundi

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