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Mental Health Crisis among Women and Young Girls in Kilifi County.

Mental Health Crisis among Women and Young Girls in Kilifi County

The Growth of Mental Health Concerns and their Relation to Kilifi County also points to an increased incidence of mental health problems in the region, a fact identified by the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR). The Acting Secretary-General of the KMPDU is Dr. Chibanzi Mwachonda, who has explained this development by the impact of several socio-economic issues, such as poverty, domestic violence, and lack of medical care and stressed that due to the mentioned factors, women and young girls are worse off as they are likely to experience pressure from more than one angle.

Data from the Kilifi County Department of Health reveals a worrying trend: This is alarming because data from different parts of the world shows a 30% rise in depression and anxiety aspects in the past five years, particularly affecting women and young girls. Dr. Anisa Omar, Kilifi County’s CHIO, said that these numbers are presumably meager as people with mental illnesses still have no easy way to seek treatment due to the widespread stigma that is associated with mental illness.

Kilifi County, like many other counties in the entire KEBS, is one of the many afflicted counties that is encountering very high economic challenges. Employment status and poverty levels significantly influence the development of mental health issues, as reflected by the current situation. Economic shocks have negative consequences, especially on the female members of the households who act as the pillars in the management of the homes. Thus, they experience more stress and anxiety in such situations.

According to a study by the World Health Organization, the fundamental cause of women’s mental health problems around the world is domestic violence. For example, in Kilifi, primary data revealing the GBV cases reported at Kilifi County Hospital’s Gender-Based Violence Recovery Center clearly indicate that domestic violence has escalated during the COVID-19 outbreak, and this has affected mental health.

Mental health is also a significant concern in Kilifi County, most especially because the number of health professionals and facilities is inadequate. Currently, there is only one psychiatric unit in the entire county; due to this, most women and young girls are unable to access adequate mental health services. This policy leverages Kenya Mental Health Policy (2015–2030) to address these gaps, but the implementation has been slow.

Specific measures and programs have been undertaken to curb the further escalation of the problem. While addressing the people of Taita Taveta in their home language, other countries that have been used as examples include Kilifi County, which has embarked on distributing fliers together with NGOs like Basic Needs Kenya to educate people on mental health. These programs aim at creating awareness, anti-prejudice campaigns, and some fundamental counseling.

In addition, Dr. Susan Gitau, a respected psychologist and mental health activist, is currently working with schools in the region to popularize mental health education campaigns. These programs aim to teach young girls how to handle the stresses they undergo in their daily lives and where to seek assistance if they cannot handle them themselves.

Ending the prevalence of mental health disorders in Kilifi County cannot be achieved by addressing a single factor. More resources for mental health treatment programs, awareness, and better infrastructure and employment opportunities are needed. It is now high time for national and county governments to join hands in social partnerships to ensure that this vice of mental health remains devised without much attention in southern Sudan; positive mental health should be supported through extra and special funding, especially for women and young girls.

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