HEALTH AND WELLNESS

People with poor mental health likely to form bad habits

It is high time mental wellness is taken seriously and mental healthcare be available, affordable and accessible to all.

In Summary

•Surveys from around the world show that men everywhere find it difficult to open up about mental health.

•Employers, too, need to pay close attention to mental wellness of their employees.

Times are tough, we have just come out of a pandemic, elections are just around the corner, and the cost of living is rising and with this, the mental health of Kenyans is becoming an increasing matter of concern.

Even when a report by the Ministry of Health showed one in every 10 Kenyans suffers from a mental disorder, the government is yet to roll out measures to address the issue.

As most Kenyans have to chip in from their pockets to access counselling, others tend to look for affordable and easy solutions.

Kelvin Wamae, 35, a resident at Mathare, Nairobi says, he would rather wake up to a bottle of local alcohol, than go to talk to a counsellor.

“Why waste my money on someone who cannot help me solve my problems? I just take it out on the alcohol,” Wamae told the Star on Tuesday morning.

A Study published in Behavioral Medicine, states that drinking, smoking, and illegal drug use may be used to cope with depression and anxiety. Psychologists found that participants with very low incomes reported a higher number of health-compromising behaviours, compared to those with higher incomes.

Surveys from around the world show that men everywhere find it more difficult to open up about mental health, and this stigma does not really end well.

Dr. Jennifer Walsh, lead author of the study found that the perceived stress, and predicted later levels of unhealthy behaviours follow depression, anxiety, and stress, rather than giving rise to them.

“By the time someone starts practicing unhealthy behaviour like drinking, substance use, unprotected sex, poor diet, and insufficient or excessive sleep, he or she might have gone or is going through stress, anxiety, or depression, so its best to act then,” Walsh said.

“Clinicians and practitioners should recognise that there may be high rates of depression, anxiety, and stress, as well as health-compromising behaviours, in low-income populations, and they should assess mental health as well as these behaviours."

It is high time mental wellness is taken seriously and mental healthcare be available, affordable and accessible to all.

“It is also important to break the stigma through media-driven civic education, which will have positive impact on treatment seeking behaviour,” she said.

Employers, too, need to pay close attention to mental wellness of their employees by creating a working environment that does not over stress workers.

By openly sharing how we feel and talking about mental health daily, more people may seek professional help. You are not alone!

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