Guest blog by Rose Omollo, a Watipa Scholar in Kenya, for World Mental Health Day, 10th October 2018.
As a mental health advocate I have joined a group of other mental health advocates online to raise awareness and write blogs for sharing with those who are affected and those suffering from it as well.
Mental health is a vital aspect of human life, and as the World Health Organisation says, ‘health is a state of complete physical, mental and social wellbeing of an individual and not merely the absence of a disease or infirmity.’ This phrase implies that when we are not mentally stable then it means we are not healthy. When we talk of mental illness in the African context, our community understanding is often judgmental and seen as ‘mad’ or ‘crazy’. Many still do not understand mental health and mental illnesses. It should be a concern for everyone, and requires a multi-sectoral approach. This is because it affects our daily lives, relationships and even physical health. The stigma that comes with mental illness is so huge, the feeling of rejection, isolation and being looked down upon, it hurts so much that even the people who are close to you are the ones isolating themselves from you. In the worst scenarios, sometimes those seen as mad or crazy are physically chained.
It is hard fighting a negative force that leaves your weary every day. I think that sometimes people who have a mental illness need a shoulder to lean on and a listening ear. We need to talk and share what we are going through so that we can be helped. Not unless we speak up will anyone know that help is needed. Sometimes we just wish someone could just walk over and ask if we are ok; and if not, be able to tell, and to tell us that all shall be well.
As a community we need to reach out to people with mental illness by creating a supportive and an enabling environment to enable them maximise their full potential. Mental health should not limit us from achieving all that we are capable of achieving.
As people, including people with mental health concerns, we should always look on the brighter side even when this is hard, and we are feeling tired and feeling drained. Sometimes with a wondering mind it is hard to realise or even see the amazing and awesome things about us. We should not let our mental illnesses define us.
Look at yourself in the mirror and smile, see a reflection of that person in the mirror and remind yourself that the person you are seeing is pretty and blessed. Just remind yourself that no matter what, you are going to win because it is a battle already won.
#My mental illness doesn’t define
#Keeping the conversation going on mental health
Rose Omollo, Watipa Scholar, Kenya