Spidey senses and financial strain not withstanding i kept on pushing on with the goal. I did enjoy going to work brining my vision to life which i called Mindful Wellbeing Project its something i have been building piece by piece during my recovery.
This is as good as time as any to start getting you acquainted with mental health and the state the country has been in and where were headed if we don’t take action.
A few stats:
Mental health is defined as “a state of well-being whereby individuals recognize and realize their abilities, are able to cope with the normal stresses of life, work productively and fruitfully, and make a contribution to their communities”. Mental, neurological and substance use disorders are common and affects more than 25% of all people at some point during their lifetime across the world (WHO).
In Kenya, it is estimated that one in every 10 people suffer from a common mental disorder. The number increases to one in every four people among patients attending routine outpatient services which has been exacerbated by the impact of Covid-19. This makes it not surprising that 30% of hospital beds in the country are occupied by patients experiencing mental distress. The cost of treating mental illness lies between Ksh50,000 to Ksh100,000 before factoring in Ksh10,000 for consultation source: The Standard 30/9/2018.
With new studies now showing that a third of covid-19 survivors will be diagnosed with a mental health condition source: The Guardian 7/4/21 according to a study published in the journal Lancet Psychiatry, Kenya having less than 1000 mental health professionals treating 50million+ Kenyans source: KANCO 24/9/2019, the country is spiralling to a mental health epidemic.
With that info break we can return to the lab…my agreement was that after the customary 3-month probation period the pay package and engagement was to be reviewed. Lets just say i went all in and by the end of the probation period I had;
- Moved closer to the office
- Self-funded to work there
- Literally created a million-dollar project from their two hundred-thousand-dollar project for the lab
How its currently going 5months in…if you laugh there’s a reservation for you in the six level of hell
Yeah, yeah, been rather busy planning out my githeri lunch & dinners while the founder who is my direct boss has been busy hosting investors from Asia, West Africa and attending summits in Dubai globe trotting doing Founder things not to mention being lavished with awards the most recent being “The Most Inspiring Leader in 2021”…lanes i tell you LANES!!
I’ll confess i don’t cook or rather the “time” to get a fridge has yet not come hahahaha and luckily there’s a ka local restaurant that sells very tasty meals. The what are now looking like good ol days of having fish & Ugali, Chicken Dry fry with rice ati on weekends some succulent nyama choma and fries/ugali. Little did i know i was living the high life but a month ago…
I’m sure y’all are thinking well that escalated quickly or if there were ever good times which is a fair question, the modus operandi within the lab is invest & sacrifice for the bigger picture with future wins to soon follow with hard work & determination. I’ll take a moment to high five to me for actually getting to use modus operandi in the most appropriate setting..
When you’ve been self financing for some time in this climate things escalte real quick rekegwire how the menue has shifted to njahi with rice & githeri plain yani not even the githeri special with some ka nyama hahaha for the last two weeks. Every time I go to order the chef says fish ama chicken leo…?? And I respond with “Nimechoka Nyama leo ni githeri plain” hahahahahahaha there was a time when I meant it.
At the end of my probation period I did try to get a definitive answer from my boss John Kamara of Ada Labs Africa, which just wasn’t coming through all I got before the most recent total radio silence this fateful month of May was speak of sourcing for funds for the project and the long-term sustainability of my project as well as my engagement. ‘A year from now…’ statements I’m not sure if I was to work for free till then but yeah.
The potential impact of the project of 250,000 Kenyans directly and millions thereafter, kept me pushing 150+days in, I am still working (26/5/21) as I write this to maintain the integrity of the project and my name.
Lets get to the meat of the matter…the project.
It is a mental health & wellness project with the objectives of;
- Demystifying mental health
- Breaking the stigma surrounding mental health and mental illness through community sensitization.
- Avail telemental health services to bridge the resource gap
- Train mental health first aiders within our communities, schools, counties, organizations etc
- Create wellness working spaces
Through its key driver activities that include;
- Training Mental Health Champions/First Aiders(Online) in our communities, youth, school, institutions, organizations and homes, empowers the individuals and gives them the tools to support family & friends. I am the perfect testament to the training if this stressful situation would have taken place before the graduation if would have most likely sparked a mental breakdown but now my mental fortitude is strong and true I am able to have a healthy response.
The training of champions allows for early intervention within the populous by availing mental health first aiders to persons who maybe struggling with their wellbeing to be reached out to. I’m certain if there were such people when I was a teenager I believe it could have made a difference.
Mental Health Explained-When your mental health starts to get strained and subsequently deteriorate is robs you of the ability to handle daily chores, problems, work, responsibilities, personal relationships and on the last legs of the illness just the act of living becomes an unbearable experience. So it doesn’t matter whether you are a teacher, artist, blue collar, informal sector, student, high flyer or leader the pattern of deterioration is the same it starts with the small things and progresses to the point where there is nothing more to take and a shell of a person is all that is left.
Post Covid-19 we have seen a rise in suicides & murder suicide cases during the pandemic this a clear indication that the wellbeing of Kenyans is deteriorating rapidly. And like all other illnesses if we don’t start addressing it, it shall only get worse with time sparking a mental health epidemic.
Click the link... State of the Country
- Organizations & institutions which is where the majority of working youth & adults spend majority of their waking time mentally and or physically. The on and off lockdowns, pay cuts, business closures, loan defaulting etc. has made the work environment unconducive to productivity & good working relationships for both the employers and employees and the project provides the solutions.
Lost productivity as a result of the most common mental health disorders anxiety and depression, costs the global economy US$ 1trillion each year. In total, poor mental health was estimated to cost the world economy approximately $2-5 trillion per year in poor health and reduced productivity in 2010, a cost projected to raise to $6 trillion by 2030 source: The Lancet Global Health, November 2020.
- Telemental Health bridging the mental health resource gap where the country has less than 1,000 mental health professionals to manage a population of 50millions+ through the partner Mental Health App where one can get a access to mental health professionals & institutions in anonymity as well as interact with the community and mental health champions.
The country is spiralling to a mental health pandemic fuelled by the pandemic and we must take action, we must push for the government to prioritize mental health management. We are living in difficult and unprecedented times we need to take care of ourselves and our neighbours more than ever, there are various organizations that have purposed to tackle the mental health crisis we appreciate you and we all can do more to play our part.
- BOMA Circles Hold on to your hats because the project also has a program to help our children who are also struggling through the pandemic, through the creation BOMA Circles in schools run by student mental health champions who can help their classmates. Our children are the future and equipping them with tools that foster wellbeing and building their capacity not only to help themselves but to also help their peers is securing the success & growth of the country.
The youth are the most affected demographic when it comes to mental health having the early presentations of mental distress in teenage years, I recall that that is when i started feeling the strain myself which should give all parents pause.
The project is ambitious with its scope addressing mental issues in all aspects with a national perspective, involving stakeholders as no one project or institution can remedy the mental health challenges the country is facing.
With that said If there are mental health organizations that would like to join the ecosystem DM me or email me, the wider the resource pool the greater impact we will be able to make.
- Creating awareness & sensitization is key to break the stigma surrounding mental health conversations, on this we are working with a production company that has created the Frankly Speaking 25min TV show that shares raw and honest experiences of different people living with mental illness to help us understand and associate the experiences with everyday people.
As fate would have it my story is the first pilot episode, trailer is coming soon..
Suffice to say a great load of effort has gone into the project which i strongly believe in i have no other option than to fight for it. I’m hoping that I have provided some insight on mental health and lit a fire in all of us to take some sort of action no matter how big or small in the mental health space..