By Raisa Okwaras
A recent study by Gertrude’s Children Hospital shows that about twenty to forty percent of Kenyan children could be suffering from mental illnesses. The hospital attributes the dire situation to the covid-19 pandemic.
According to Gertrude’s Hospital Head of Clinical Services Thomas Ngwiri, the covid-19 pandemic bore negative effects on the mental health of children in the country. The children realized disruptions in their routine, their education, families, family income, and their general health. As a result, this led to rising levels of fear and anxiety in the younger population since they were uncertain of their current and future forthcomings.
Thomas Ngwiri went ahead and clarified that there exists no single cause of mental illnesses. According to him, mental illnesses are a combination of genetics, social stressors, and temperaments or people’s way of living.
Sadly, it can take to heights of sixteen months for adolescents to seek professional help in mental health matters.
“Parents must be vigilant to spot any signs of distress in their children such as difficulty in sleeping, bedwetting after having a few dry months, difficulty concentrating, or even refusal to go to school. Sometimes, mental illnesses present with physical symptoms such as abdominal pain, unexplained headaches, or fainting episodes,” mentioned Thomas Ngwiri.
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Since it may take a while for children to seek help, Gertrude’s Children Hospital CEO Robert Nyarango asks parents to help children seek mental health help once they spot the symptoms. He also mentioned how important it is to give children the space to air out their concerns and address them suitably. They should also embrace counseling to help them deal with their respective mental illnesses.
“While talking about mental illnesses is still seen as taboo in some contexts, ignoring the topic is likely to lead to serious repercussions,” stated CEO Robert Nyarango.
The CEO added that they have an equipped mental health department at Gertrude’s Children Hospital to help young people up to 21 years old who are battling mental health illnesses.
The original article was first shared by Capital FM.