Saying No To Depression: Community Mental Health Awareness
by Rev. Wambui Njoroge, MS.
The Recent Beginning: In October 2018 in response to suicides in the Diaspora community, a Team of 5 individuals begun a serious discussion on Mental Health entitled, “Saying No to Depression.” By the end of 12 months that number had grown to 13 Professionals, parents and youth who call on a live monthly national (USA) teleconferenced discussion.
Some of us who call to discuss issues had not met before, but we responded to an urgent need to ensure that information, resources, and people are available to all families in Diaspora. Our aim is to reach one family at a time.
We are grateful to Brother Antony Kamnao founder of KEMEN (Kenyan Men Empowerment Network) for allowing us to use his platform to reach the Diaspora community. Our focus is Kenyans in the USA but we are open to all those who would like to call in.
Having previously worked in the area of Mental Health for Children/Adolescents and their families, both in the Public School System in GA, and Outpatient Clinic as a Family Therapist, Rev Wambûi Njoroge also helped in identifying individuals in the Mental Health field, who are interested in the wellness of Diaspora Community. The MH team members are volunteers.
After discussing MH issues for 12 months we met, some of us for the first time at Kennesaw City Hall, GA on Saturday, November 2, 2019.
Get Help: Our Theme: “Where no counsel is, the people fall, but in the multitude of counselors, there is safety.” (Proverbs 11:14). In this case, we are referring to a person obtaining the best counseling from mental health or medical professionals. We believe that in Diaspora USA we have what it takes to save lives. It is our hope and prayer that before the crisis comes too close, many families in Diaspora will have heard the message of Saying No to Depression, at least once. Equally, many will know what to do. One life saved is a generation that will live to proclaim the goodness of the LORD.
In our discussions, it is important to highlight that Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem. Literally repeated as follows, “If you or someone you know is suicidal/it is important to connect them with appropriate services. Call Suicide Prevention Lifeline/ .800.273.8255/Available 24/7 365 Days. 0r Call 911. The aim is to keep a person alive and to encourage them to get professional help.”
We are aware of the Diaspora Community of Faith. However, at this time, we do not wish to get into religious arguments of demons and prayers, rather we wish to proceed by making some recommendations for believers.
First: As believers, we recommend that if a minister or a religious worker doesn’t know what mental health issue is, that person has or has no previous education, training, or experience whatsoever, they cannot be able to provide the needed help. However, every adult believer is able to point a person in need to obtain appropriate help.
Second: When clergy cannot make the distinction between demon possession and mental illness, it is better to take the person to the hospital and pray on the way there. There is no shame in this. There is no face that needs to be saved except for the person who is suicidal. It is not necessary neither practical for everyone to study and become a Mental Health provider. But all adults can learn how to access help, just like we have learned that in times of emergencies of matters of life or death and crises we can call Call 911. Even a child in Day Care can learn that. It is the right thing to do. Saving a life is more important than saving your face.
Third: Consider the liability of attempting to provide a level of care that one is not trained to give. In this case, it is better to be wrong than to be sorry.
Purpose: Our purpose is to Talk About the Pink Elephant in the Room or Unmask Mental Health (MH) issues, Offer hope and share resources where individuals can get help.
Mental Health STARS is an acronym that stands for (Start Talking About MH And Remove Stigma). As a team MH STARS are professionals who have come together and joined hands because they have firm faith in Jesus Christ, solid mainline Churches’ theological foundation, sound academic background, relevant training, combined with many years of experience in the areas of MH. Above all MH STARS care for the wellness of the USA Diaspora community.
Presenters: Each presenter has a specialty area of mental health. Because of combined, varied experience over the years, they also have incorporated medical professionals. The team shares individual stories, which include life experiences of parents and youth in the USA; they offer a holistic approach to, MH issues. For example, emphasis on spirituality, which for the most part is not incorporated in most of the MH research nor is it available in textbooks. Also, STARS do consider life experiences purposeful and of great resource to the community. Therefore, in their presentations and discussions, parents are valued and their input is incorporated in the, narrative as well as youth and community supporters. In Diaspora, we can no longer hoard information, nor have a lone ranger mentality in times of crisis. We believe that it will take everyone in the family playing a vital role to combat MH issues, and especially suicide among YA aged 19-34 years.
Why Discuss MH?
Take Depression for example. It is not just a bad mood and some feeling that will go away on its own. Depression is an intense mood disorder that affects people’s, physical, mental, emotional and even spiritual wellbeing. It makes everyday life difficult. It affects the person who is suffering and affects family members. Millions of people suffer from depression. This then, makes it the most common MH disorder in USA statistics. It also means that anyone can be affected regardless of their background. The sad thing is that many people don’t seek treatment, others don’t know they are depressed and others are misdiagnosed. The African mentality that what you don’t know cannot hurt you is totally false. What you don’t know, or what you neglect can actually harm. Hurt and even kill a person. Knowledge is power. Knowing what the problem is, what it looks like or how it feels like is one step towards getting help.
Depression is a treatable illness and when necessary care is put in place, most people who suffer from depression do recover and improve the quality of their lives. Removing Stigma from MH issues gives families the freedom they need to seek treatment. Just consider for a moment/from childhood, youth, adolescent and adulthood, 1 out of every 5 people that you meet today will suffer from mental illness in their lifetime.
STARS TEAM: We are here for the Diaspora community. Each one of us is specialized in a certain area. We volunteer our time, and we are reachable. We also speak on various platforms like Radio, conferences, retreats, workshops, seminars and even home fellowships. Many of us have either our individual NonProfit
Organizations, or Family clinics where we practice, or minister. When we share on Teleconference, or in a WhatsApp we do not charge a fee, but when invited, we require that inviting ministry Church or community to help meet the cost of transportation, meals or refreshments, accommodation and receive a love offering or donation in the session(s) we minister in. This is to maintain integrity in our work, also to help meet the cost of materials and preparation thereof. We do consider ourselves to be a valuable community resource.
When anyone ofbusbia called individually, they can charge a small, co situation few, or agree to consult for free for 15 Minutes. Beyond that, an
individual probably needs a higher level of follow up. We are willing to point a person to the right help, which they seek on their own.
The Team And their States include: Mr. Antony Kamnao, MO/Founder-KEMEN Platform.) Networking in Partnership with MH STARS –
Rev. Wambui M. Njoroge, MS/South GA (Child/Adolescent & their Families Counselor for School Aged Children Pre-K-12th Grade & College Entrance: Ministry: Ordained-Triumph Christian Ministries, Incorporated: Facilitator for TCMI-Family E.E. Forums, USA. Preacher/Gospel Artist/Radio Ministry-with Ezra Christian Radio), Mrs. Lucy Simiyu, MS/Houston TX, (Public Health Professional Nurse & Consultant. Church-Biblical Counselor & PhD Candidate). Dr. Penny W. Njoroge, PhD. AL. (Hospital Chaplain, Clinical Psychiatrist Counseling Psychologist, Drug /Substance Abuse Therapist. Radio Presenter-Diaspora TV, Owner of Angel Counseling Services, LLC. & Author). Mr. Kevin Ngugi, BS. RN. GA (Medical: Community Educator. Speaks on the Process of what happens when an individual presents themselves at the hospital. He represents KEMEN in GA). Ms. Esther Brown, MS, GA. (Medical: Family Nurse Practitioner & Owner of Smiling Souls Homecare: Engaging Life Story). Ms. Alice Munyua, MS/NC: Mental Health Nurse Practitioner. Speaks on Spirituality. Radio Presenter-with Jambo Radio. Educator on MH & Nutrition-YouTube. Author). Dr. Bishop Pinney Muthee, PhD/Boston MA. (Biblical Studies/Christian Counselor. Preacher. Secretary of Boston Homeless Project. MA. Radio Ministry-Ezra Christian Radio. Author).
Dr. Pauline Waweru, PhD, GA (Hospital: LPC/Psychotherapist. Owner: Gemstone Counseling Services).
Mrs. Zippy Wambui, BS, NH. (Cultural Advocate on Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault and Human Trafficking).
Ms. Annliza Mary Ben, BS TX/ (Licensed Chemical & Drug Addiction Counselor, Family Assistance Crisis Team Volunteer. Gospel Artist).
Dr. Nancy Wambaa of CA, Clinical Psychologist. Sharing available resources for our various topics both for USA & Kenya..
YA Panelist & Community Supporters: Special thanks to our panel of Young Adults (YA) that supported MH Awareness in November/”Saying No to Depression” Christine Gikan’ga, MS-Business Administration-Hawaii Pacific University, GA & one of the first original 6 presenters. Shiro-MO, Tana-GA, Beatrice-GA, Keith-GA and standing with YA-Mr. Eddie Kihara, College Student & Business Owner-lst Choice Tutors. GA. We thank those who have supported MH STARS in the GA Diaspora community, especially Mr. Isaac & Jackie Gitau for publishing our articles and carrying a positive message through KPIUSA/Diaspora Media, Dr. (Rev) Joe Njoroge, , Apostle Zephania Muturi, Eva. Caroline Njoki, Ms. Christine Muchene, Mrs. Stella Muturi-standing in for parents, Ms. Virginia Kirima-KCFA S.GA Missionary Chapter Secretary. PUSSH Partners USA-Prayer Ministry, Pastor Joshua Mbuvi (Opening his Church for Community Education), Mrs. Sarah Mutuma. And finally, our Guest in November: Ms. Karen Gitau (Nov. 2019/Official Candidate for Kennesaw City Council Seat). Thank you for sharing your life story.
This message of MH has taken center stage in Kenya, UK, and around the world, so it is not just for Diaspora. It is impossible for anyone to claim credit, but rather each one has, and do tonuws to make value me,co tribulations. For all professionals in MH depression and suicide are not new. To keep the basics of common sense and logic, Let us just agree that MH is a treatable illness. In other states, similar discussions have been facilitated in Southern California-Diaspora Solutions with Mumb, in Dallas TX with Dr. Elizabeth Wachira, in Seattle, WA-Rev Wambui Njoroge. There is Uhai Boston-with Jane, and in many other states. Let us keep working on what matters to families at this time.
Whether you are the one who is depressed or are struggling with MH, we are all affected because when we feel hurt, when our families and friends hurt. Please let us keep helping each other by sharing this message and raising awareness so that people can get the help they need.
Contact us if we can be of help in your Church or fellowship. We are our brothers and sisters keepers.
Disclaimer: Information provided here is never a substitute for Medical or Mental Health Illness. Please follow up with treatment with a Mental Health Provider, or your Primary Care Physician. Do not stop taking medication or treatment without consulting with your Doctor or Psychiatrist. Report any negative side effects or Suicidal tendencies to your behavioral health counselor.
NAMI/National Association of Mental Illness
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