Mental health is soon becoming a national crisis. Not a day goes by without hearing mental health-related cases on media platforms that have escalated to the level of suicide. One in every ten people is estimated to be suffering from a common mental disorder with depression and anxiety disorders leading the pack (Ministry of Health, Kenya). According to the Kenyan Mental Health Taskforce report presented on 7th July 2020, our mental health burden remains to be high and should be declared a national emergency. Considering the gaps that exist in mental health care, some have opted to seek help from an alternative source.
Among the challenges encountered when seeking professional help is the shortage of trained mental health professionals. According to the Mental Health Policy of 2015-2030, Kenya has 88 consultant psychiatrists and about 500 psychiatrist nurses serving a population of 45 million Kenyans. Moreover, at least 1 in every 4 Kenyans will have suffered from mental health. These statistics translate to the professionals being overwhelmed by those seeking these services. The shortage of trained personnel, their inaccessibility, and the high cost of treatment have been a stumbling block for those in dire need of help. Also, the near-impossible chance for one to take time off their paid work to see a therapist and the discrimination after have not made it easy.
Due to the existing limitations, some have opted to practice self-therapy for their healing. How is it possible? Does this put an end to the therapists? Therapy sessions are equally helpful, successful, and are here to stay. However, for those constrained by space, time, and budget, below are some available options:
- Adopting a self-care practice for rejuvenation like taking walks
- Taking care of your body through exercising, getting quality sleep, eating healthy, and avoiding alcohol and substance abuse
- Listening to podcasts that help in meditation or talk about mental health
- Reading self-help books that focus on cognitive behavioral therapy such as Mind Over Mood by Dennis Greenberger and Christine A. Padesky
- Downloading apps such as Moodgym that assists an individual to identify problems with emotions such as anxiety and depression and learn skills to help cope with the emotions
- Checking out blogs or vlogs that focus on mental health such as TedX talks (some episodes), rethink mental illness, peak your mind, and the brain forum
- Following online platforms such as Mind My Mind on Facebook or individuals such as Stephen Siloma who articulate their mental health journey to healing
- Being emotionally aware. Understanding the various emotions and the impact they have on your mental health
- Journaling your thoughts
- Surrounding yourself with positive people. Misery begets company. Often it is easy to entertain individuals who are in the same mental space as you. Therefore, opt for people with positive energy
- Quieting your mind through meditation
- Developing proper stress management techniques like practicing gratitude and connecting with others
- Giving yourself. The feeling that comes with offering help to someone in need is rewarding
The aforementioned strategies can be adopted and put to use. However, they are dependent on the severity of your mental disorder. Regardless of this, they are beneficial only if the individual is interested. If those around you are willing to get help, kindly encourage them to do so. Whether through the self-help strategies or sessions facilitated by trained health personnel.
It is okay to not be okay and there is no shame in getting help.