Why there is a rise of mental illness among Kenyans

Mental health illness

Mental health illness in Kenya, just like in many other African countries, is viewed as a spiritual problem rather than a medical one.

This has lead many mental health patients and their families to turn to religious leaders or traditional healers for a cure.

Many Kenyans do not understand mental disorders as the subject is often considered taboo.  This leads to stigmatization of mentally ill  patients and their families.

Mental health includes our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It affects how we think, feel and act. It also helps determine how we handle stress, relate to others, and make choices.

Symptoms of mental illness can range from mild to severe and are different depending on the type of mental illness.  A person with an untreated mental illness often is unable to cope with life’s daily routines and demands.

Causes of mental health illness

1. Hereditary

Most  mental illnesses run in families, suggesting they may be passed on from parents to children through genes.

2. Biology

Some mental illnesses have been linked to an abnormal balance of brain chemicals called neurotransmitters.

Neurotransmitters help nerve cells in the brain communicate with each other. If these chemicals are out of balance or are not working properly, messages may not make it through the brain correctly, leading to symptoms of mental illness.

In addition, defects in or injury to certain areas of the brain also have been linked to some mental conditions.

3. Psychological trauma

Some mental illnesses may be triggered by psychological trauma suffered as a child, such as severe emotional, physical, or sexual abuse; a significant early loss, such as the loss of a parent; and neglect.

4. Environmental factors

Stressing issues  such as  death or divorce, a dysfunctional family life, changing jobs or schools, and substance abuse can trigger a disorder in a person who may be at risk for developing a mental illness.

Health experts in Kenya have warned that  at least 1 in every 4 Kenyans is likely to suffer from a mental illness at some point in their life.

They are also likely to find it difficult to get the healthcare.


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