Christina, sick from childhood cured in adulthood, are you well?

Christina is a Chinese-American lady. The issue of mental health is still viewed as a taboo amongst the Chinese culture and I couldn’t help but draw comparisons with our African culture, we still struggle to accept mental health diagnosis and even fail to acknowledge the sensitivity it calls for. At kindergarten, Christina was too timid and quiet in school and hence her teacher recommended to her parents that she sees a psychotherapist. Her parents said the teacher was wrong and worked tireless to reassure Christina that she was normal and not crazy instead of addressing the issue. Unfortunately, for Christina, she never got professional help, and that childhood experience shaped her mindset that receiving mental health treatment is viewed as being ‘crazy’.

Christina struggled with socializing and at an adult age sought the right interventions with a psychotherapist, she became more self-aware of her emotions. As a result she gained better control of her anxiety and over the way she interacts with others. She got to learn through therapy that HER ANXIETY IS PART OF HER BUT IT DOES’NT DEFINE HER.

Like Christina’s parents, many parents amongst our communities have denied their children treatment of their mental illnesses due to stigma or ignorance. It is important for everyone to understand that mental illnesses, like other diseases get worse with time if not addressed. Children whose mental illnesses aren’t addressed at a young age experience developmental challenges in the various dimensions of life; physical, social, etc.

Our community is still miles away from addressing it’s naivety to issues of mental health, it will need every one of us to pull together to create awareness and advocate for changes that create a safe space for all regardless of our differences.

Join GOA in creating awareness, advocating for change and addressing mental health challenges in our society. You can partner with us directly or create an avenue for us to educate those around you. You can also reach out to seek information or help at a personal level

Simon Ndirangu

GOA Mental Health Advocate