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Woman rep in partnership to create mental awareness in the county 

The office of the Meru County Woman representative has partnered with other stakeholders to raise mental health awareness in the region.

The main partners include Chiromo Hospital as well as Ikokay, a group of young people that is focusing on advocacy and raising awareness on mental health in the county, country and Africa at large.

The three-day campaign involved cyclists from Nairobi to Meru in order to create awareness as well as tree planting for environmental wellness.

Speaking during a tree planting exercise at Gitoro forest in Meru County, Woman Representative Ms. Elizabeth Kailemia said mental illness was a disease like any other and those suffering from it should never be stigmatized whatsoever.

“Many times, we talk about mental health and dismiss those who have been affected but we don’t stop to wonder where all this is coming from. It is high time we address the root cause of all these issues so we can have an early remedy,” said Kailemia.

She added that every human being has his own level of stress which is currently increasing due to some factors including indulgence in alcohol and other substance abuse.

Kailemia added that planting trees for the sake of environmental wellness is one of the interventions which is now being initiated by the young people and would play a key role in helping people to reduce depression.

“Trees can be a great source of relaxation and this is the reason we are encouraging our people to do forest bathing for relaxation,” said Kailemia.

Reinforcing one of the principles of Ikokay, Kailemia encouraged residents to be open whenever they have issues in order to find solutions before the matter goes out of hand.

“We should not discriminate or stigmatize victims of mental illness but treat them with dignity as well as taking time to talk to them,” said Kailemia.

To ensure young people were not idle as this was one of the recipes of indulgence in drug abuse, Kailemia said she will engage other leaders from the region to find a way of keeping them busy.

“I am personally looking for a piece of land where we can engage our youth in agribusiness and keep them busy. This will ensure they are not idle to engage in drug abuse and other vices and they will also be able to get some returns from their endeavors,” she said.

Ikokay Africa President Ms. Doreen Mwenda said the group was mainly formed to raise awareness and advocacy for mental health in Meru County, Kenya and Africa at large considering the huge number of people who were affected.

“We have been cycling for the last three days from Nairobi to Meru to raise awareness, and also engaged in environmental wellness through planting of trees as this is also one of the enhancers of mental well-being,” said Mwenda.

She said they do this on a yearly basis and they have been receiving overwhelming feedback from their efforts.

“We are mainly trying to implement recommendations from a taskforce on mental health in Kenya and we are urging all stakeholders including the government to help us implement them so that we can have a sane country,” said Mwenda.

By Dickson Mwiti


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