Creatives Garage | Mental Health Awareness
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Mental Health Awareness

Mental illness refers to a wide range of mental health conditions — disorders that affect your mood, thinking and behaviour. Examples of mental illness include depression, anxiety disorders, schizophrenia, eating disorders and addictive behaviours. Many people have mental health concerns from time to time. But a mental health concern becomes a mental illness when ongoing signs and symptoms cause frequent stress and affect your ability to function.

It is a misunderstood condition spanning countries and cultures across the world. Because it is not outwardly visible, mental illness is often underplayed or neglected as a “first world” problem. Any person with depression who has been told to “just cheer up” can attest to this fact.

In a survey conducted to assess the state of mental illness in Kenya, it was established that at least one in every four Kenyans will suffer from mental illness at one point in their lives, health experts have warned. That is 11.5 million people.

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In the creative space, some have been labelled as ‘out of the norm’ or even branded as being ‘crazy’ when people do not understand the drive or motivation a creative possesses that is not within fathom of the non-creative mind, or when viewed through a magnifying glass by someone driven by a certain moral impetus.

In the creative space, some have been labelled as ‘out of the norm’ or even branded as being ‘crazy’ when people do not understand the drive or motivation a creative possesses that is not within fathom of the non-creative mind, or when viewed through a magnifying glass by someone driven by a certain moral impetus.

Mental health is the foundation for thinking, communication, learning, resilience and self-esteem. Mental health is also key to relationships, personal and emotional well-being and contributing to community or society.

Many people who have a mental illness do not want to talk about it. But mental illness is nothing to be ashamed of! It is a medical condition, just like heart disease or diabetes and manageable or treatable. We are continually expanding our understanding of how the human brain works, and treatments are available to help people successfully manage mental health conditions.

Mental illness does not discriminate; it can affect anyone regardless of your age, gender, income, social status, race/ethnicity, religion/spirituality, sexual orientation, background or other aspect of cultural identity. While mental illness can occur at any age, three-fourths of all mental illness begins by age 24.

Mental illnesses take many forms. Some are fairly mild and only interfere in limited ways with daily life, such as certain phobias (abnormal fears). Other mental health conditions may need specialized professional care.

Therefore, let us be our brothers keepers. Let us not be quick to judge, quick to condemn or label. Mental Health is an essential part of daily life. Professional help is available at your nearest hospital or through organizations like Africa Mental Health Foundation (AHMF), AMPATH Kenya, USP Kenya and Befriend Kenya.

We coexist mutually in the same social ecosystem. We need to be aware and of tell-tale signs of mental illness like: Increased social conflict, withdrawal, easily, neglect of day to day activities, relationship difficulties and self-harm tendencies and support the concerned people to seek help.

Successful musicians, athletes and other public figures are constantly under the spotlight and do not have time to be themselves. In the glare of public attention, some seek refuge in drugs and alcohol which in turn leads to all manner of mental disorders.

At the end of the day, the main surprise for those in the creative industry is the number of them with all types of mental afflictions, as well as the fact that these conditions do not in themselves stop the majority from achieving their lifetime ambitions.

In the real world, many creative people with mental conditions are doing a great job of nation building and at the same time undergoing treatment. Ask me!

Post by: Andrew Njenga.

 

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