STIGMA STILL RAMPANT

CAS Nadia sensitises youth on mental disorders

Abdalla opens up about her PTSD, encourages the young to find away to deal with social media pressure

In Summary
  • Abdalla acknowledges that a lot of young people are at a risk and are suffering from different mental health cases such as anxiety and panic
  • Says the biggest threat that youth in Kenya are faced with is the online scare

 

CAS ministry of ICT Nadia Abdalla during the launch of National Youth Council mental health awareness at Two Rivers Mall./WILFRED NYANGARESI
CAS ministry of ICT Nadia Abdalla during the launch of National Youth Council mental health awareness at Two Rivers Mall./WILFRED NYANGARESI

ICT, Innovation and Youth Chief Administrative Secretary Nadia Abdalla has opened up about suffering post-traumatic stress disorder while at the university in Berlin, Germany.

The PTSD was caused by a fall in the shower in her apartment as she prepared to begin her day, sometime in 2016.  

“The water was running. It was winter. Thirty minutes later I opened my eyes and I was on the floor, my head was two inches away from the toilet seat which means if I had fallen down I would have cracked my skull and I would have died that day,” she told youths during a mental health awareness campaign.

She got up, called her best friend who lived just six blocks away.

“As she was coming I had to pick myself up and sit and that was the beginning of my post-traumatic stress disorder. Every time I was alone I felt like I was about to collapse and die,” she said.

Post-traumatic stress disorder is characterised by failure to recover after experiencing or witnessing a terrifying event.

The condition may last months or years, with triggers that can bring back memories of the trauma accompanied by intense emotional and physical reactions.

Since she could not afford a therapist or a psychologist, Abdalla started doing research on how to cure herself.

“I came up with a personal programme where I would force myself to get into a bus with a lot of people and I would get a panic attack. I would start sweating and I would come out. I did that for two months then later I overcame it,” she said.

“But until today sometimes I get those flashbacks. When I feel dizzy I always tell my team to let me sit because I am scared of falling and bursting myself,” she added.

Abdalla takes the opportunity as the CAS in the ministry to talk to young people on mental health. She says as a young person, she is still struggling with different conditions of mental health coupled with the loss of her mother in June last year. She died of cancer.

She acknowledges that a lot of young people are at a risk and are suffering from different mental health cases such as anxiety, panic, as a result of scarce employment opportunities that has been worsened by the Covid-19 pandemic, as well as immense societal expectations and pressure.

According to the CAS, the biggest threat that youth in Kenya are faced with is the online scare. Pressure from social media influencers and socialites who paint a beautiful picture that makes young people panic.

“Sometimes I panic as well. I am like, I am working so hard and people my age are outside having drinks, going out, dating. Each time you go online and see someone who is making you panic unfollow that person because that person is not contributing anything to your life,” she said.

She notes that even though prayers are important, other than seeking help from God, it is important for one to accept when they have a problem in order to overcome it. 

“Mental health is a very serious issue. Not only is it an issue, but it is also a condition. Not only is it a condition, it is a disease and not only is it a disease but it is still stigmatised and some of us cannot even see it,” she said.

According to the World Health Organisation, only 10 to 15 per cent of young people with mental health problems receive help from existing mental health services.

-Edited by Sarah Kanyara