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Ask Kirubi

Youth Mental Health Should be our Priority: AskKirubi

For the last few years, countries around the globe, Kenya included have shown keen interest in the rise of mental health issues of its citizens. Mental health is slowly becoming a global problem that needs a global response.

As a youth ambassador, I feel it’s high time we took the mental well-being of our youth more seriously and help them through the pressures of life. We need to continue mentoring and preparing them for their future. I believe that the effort put in by the parents and teachers in schools is not enough, hence need for collaborative endeavour from everyone. It takes a village.

 

When I read and watch headlines of young people taking their lives, I can’t help but think that we the older generation have failed or are failing them. We have to find out where we are going wrong or went wrong. We cannot sit down and fold our hands watching the young people lose their lives through depression. Let’s talk about the vices in the community.

Mental health is an issue close to my heart for I work closely with the youth. In every area of my professional and personal life, I am always surrounded by them. Conversing with them from time to time, one thing comes out clearly. There’s so much pressure on the Kenyan Youth. They are burdened by unemployment, lack of opportunities, school fees, debt and even relationships.

I know the pressure of ‘making it’ can take toil on you, but you don’t have to succumb to it. Take your life a day at a time. Life is a journey, not a destination. There will be ups and downs but that shouldn’t discourage you. You fail at something, you heed the lessons, get yourself together and press on.

As I always say, overnight success is a scam. Wealth will never come at a blink of an eye unless you rob a bank. So continue working on yourself and your business. Remember you need to put in the work to get ahead in life. When you feel tired or down, it is crucial that you take some time off to maintain your balance and avoid burnout. Your mental health is just as critical as physical health.

On the other hand, the Government should support community based care and treatment for persons with mental illness. This can be achieved by prioritising on the mental health of Kenyans especially the youth by increasing budgetary allocations for mental health services and ensuring a dedicated budget line for mental health at national and county level as part of the UHC agenda.

Kenyans too need to understand that mental illness is just that; an illness. There is nothing to be ashamed about whether you, a friend or a family member is suffering. We all have a part to play in this by actively reducing the stigma, which makes living with a mental illness an intractable burden.

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This way, it will be easier to ensure community participation in the mental well-being of young people. We have to provide safe spaces for ourselves and for people with mental illness to support their journey to recovery and integration into the community.

Lastly, we need to critically pay attention and raise awareness on the issues affecting the mental health of our youth. If we don’t take care of the mental health of the youth we are one degree away from flooding the island. The health of the people should be paramount for any government.

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