According to the world health organization (WHO) “Mental health is a state of mental well-being that enables people to cope with the stress of life, realize their abilities, learn well and work well and contribute to their community”.

 Everyone is at some risk of developing a mental health disorder regardless of sex, income, age or ethnicity.

2017 report of WHO on the world mental health situation ranked Kenya fifth among the African countries with the highest number of depression cases with 1.9 million people with mental illness. According to the Kenya mental health policy (2015-2030) mental disorders in Kenya continue to rise rapidly. Statistics reveal that 1 in every 4 Kenyans has suffered from mental illness at one point in their lives. The Government of Kenya has taken steps to improve access to mental health status, the Government set up a mental task force in November 2019.The task force report shows high levels of depression and suicidal behavior, mental distress and substance use.

According to the Kenya Ministry of Health (MOH) mental illness affects at least 25% of the population, with depression and anxiety being the most prevalent conditions.

 Have you ever thought that social media has an impact in mental health? Both positive and negative.

Social media platforms often portray versions of people’s lives, showcasing achievements, appearance and experiences this can lead to social comparison where individuals compare their own lives to others and feel inadequate or unhappy.

Social media perpetuates unrealistic beauty standards leading to poor self-esteem, particularly among young people.

Online platforms can facilitate cyber bullying, harassment and online abuse. Negative interactions on social media can cause emotional distress and harm mental well-being.

While social media has its drawbacks, it also has positive influence on mental well-being as it provides spaces for individuals to connect with like-minded people, join support groups and share their experiences this sense of community can be especially beneficial for individuals who may feel isolated or have limited access to local support networks. Social media has played a significant role in raising awareness about mental health issues and promoting stigmatization. It has provided a platform for individuals to openly discuss their struggles and advocate for better mental health care.

Its important to remember that while social media can have positive effects it’s essential to use it mindfully and set boundaries to maintain a healthy mind additional seeking professional help when needed is crucial for managing mental heaslth concerns.

In conclusion interventions are needed to address mental health challenges especially for vulnerable populations such as women ,children,persons with disabilities and those living with poverty not forgetting men as the recently published Kenya National Bureau of Statistics showed that more men than women have suffered from mental illness.

We need to enhance our investment in mental health and we need to do it now.Mental health has been hidden behind a curtain of discrimination its time to bring it out into the open.

By Zulekha Nakhuva

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