May is Mental Health awareness month observed in the USA since 1949. It is also commonly referred to as “Mental Health Month” (www.NAMI.org). The reason for raising awareness if for destigmatizing Mental Health (MH), which sometimes is a matter of life and death. We can no longer refer to individuals with mental health illness as “Mad”, “Crazy, “Muguruki, “Mwenda wazimu.”
or as Americans say “Gone Banana.” Just as much as we do not place such labels on individuals who are managing Diabetes, High Blood Pressure, Asthma, Cancer, AIDs, and so forth. We need to reach a place in our lives were when we notice someone is struggling with MH issues, we will nudge them to seek help. Someone has given an illustration to the fact that, if a colleague shows up for work every day coughing, someone would ask, “By the way have you seen a doctor for that nasty cough?” Or another example, if we see a person drowning, would we cry out for help? Would we give a helping hand or would we watch in shame and silence?
Let us discuss briefly: Definition of Mental Health as commonly known to health care providers and as it is referred to in scientific research. Most MH disorders are not permanent and treatment is possible. Although there are
many causes of MH issues, for the purposes of the Diaspora community, we will look into 2 causes of depression, mainly (a) Genetic, (b) Environmental. Then explore briefly the relationship between depression and suicide. Finally, share some resources on how to access help in order to manage MH issues.
Mental Health: Refers to a person’s condition with regard to their emotional, psychological and social well-being. If affects how we think, feel and act. While working with Children and Adolescents, I coined the simple formula that T=FAB (thoughts equals to feelings, attitudes, and behaviors).
Treatment-Most MH disorders are not permanent and this makes us believe and share that when individuals seek and obtain appropriate treatment, there is healing for the body, mind, and soul. “Beloved I pray that in all respects you may prosper and be in good health, just as your soul prospers.” (3 John 1:2).
In the past 7 months, we have discussed that there are several factors that cause depression. We have come to understand that depression is caused by an interaction of internal & external factors in the body’s chemistry with physical factors like health and heredity. The 2 causes that are of interest in this article for this month are Genetic f and environmental causes.
(1) Genetic causes which some people refer to as generational curses, which I Am there need to be a rebuke, cast out and deliver from demons. Family Therapists might call
them generational patterns that need to be interfered or interrupted with, for example, families with 50% chances of having Diabetes. Ask
What would happen
if the current generation changes their eating habits? How would this affect the next generation? When we speak with our medical doctors, psychiatrists and psychologists, they are likely to say that a person has a genetic predisposition for a MH disorder based on family history. This is as evidenced by an individual report or documented reports in the person’s medical file. However, heredity does not automatically mean that an individual will be affected by a MH disorder. Here I trust that most people in Diaspora will breathe in and out with a sigh of relief. In any case, how many in Diaspora are reading this article and are able to trace their genealogy to the 6th & 5th generation? Do people know what killed their great-great-grandfathers 130 years ago? How many in Diaspora know the written medical history of their families to the 6th generation (back to 1845). How many brought their medical file with them to this new land? How many more told their doctors the truth about their medical history back in Kenya? 👀 If we are relying sorely on oral stories (not history) then we can go on teaching generational curses that many have not been able to cure or cast out the demons, nor administer deliverance. Let us remember this is based either on our African traditions
of the belief in the role of ancestral spirits influencing our lives or practice thereof. Luckily our Western clinicians and most MH providers practicing in this country have studied the same theories about MH. Here is our line of departure with what we know as Christians and what we practice. Are MH disorders caused by curses or chemistry? Or Could it be an interplay of both? In reading the scriptures, there are many times when Jesus healed the sick and also cast out the spirit…this discussion will be left to a religious article sometime in the future. Can a balanced discussion include generational blessings?
Family and Friends, in order to help individuals struggling with MH, we may call ourselves to reason. In other words, base our understanding of scientific research. Then use available resources, not just to inform, but to transform the lives of families in Diaspora. Of course, individuals in the community of faith have a right to believe in generational curses. But here is a word of caution: if a practicing Christian regardless of their call, their title or their position, doesn’t know the main differences between demon possession and mental illness, my informed opinion is that it is better to be wrong than sorry. Hurry to ➡ Take the person to the hospital, and while on the way there, drive praying. The key is not to have a really hot testimony of casting out demons. The key is to keep a person alive and connect them with needed help. Then they can give their testimony, that is their story with the Touch of Jesus Christ.
Environmental Causes are sometimes overlooked. Yet from a developmental
context, major life changes can contribute to or trigger depression. For example, the death of a loved one, being diagnosed with a chronic illness, financial problems, dealing with difficult relationships, prolonged job loss, trauma experienced due to abuse and even immigration issues that might leave families in limbo. A stressful environment, say like having a family member in jail, or imprisoned can lead to emotional problems like anxiety and frustration. The list can be endless.
Relationship Between Depression and Suicide: Most depressed people do not kill themselves, however, the majority of people who commit suicide, have a diagnosable mental or substance abuse disorder. Even though they might not have sought treatment. People who are depressed may feel hopeless sad, or pessimistic. In our discussion, we emphasize that suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem. This is not meant in any way to minimize a person’s problems. This then means that any discussion of suicide should be taken seriously. When children, adolescents, and adults talk about killing themselves, they are not asking or seeking negative attention. They are asking for help. Perhaps a good question would be to ask a person, “When the situation you are experiencing changes for the better, how will you feel?” Please listen carefully to statements like “I will never be happy again, or feel loved ever. I am better off gone…” Pay attention and be reassuring that things can and will get better. Be aware that there are negative side effects caused by some prescription medication. Read the fine prints carefully. If there are negative side effects to any medicine, don’t just quit, contact the doctor immediately.
A hallmark of clinical depression and suicidal feelings and tendencies is how long (duration) has a person felt sad and hopeless. How often do they feel like this (intensity)? How have the feelings, attitude, and behavior of this particular person affected their lives (day to day functioning) at home, at school, at work, recreation and in the community? The thing is, Depression doesn’t just go away because we wish it to. Imagine 1 out 4 people you will meet today will experience some type of depression in their lifetime. If this is the case, there should be no shame in asking and in getting help.
We can all earn STARS (Start Talking About it and Remove Stigma. Please join a Team of caring professionals, parents & ministers who have a Teleconference Live discussion with questions & answers on all types of issues of Mental Health affecting our community. This discussion takes place every 4th Tuesday of each month, now in its 8th month. It is made possible through the courtesy of KEMEN (Kenyan Men Empowerment Network, with Mr. Anthony Kamnao, Founder).
What Next? Watch out for articles Part 2 & 3.
Online Resources In the Public Domain⤵
GA Crisis Access Line (GCAL) 1.800.715.4225. Available 24/7
National Alliance On Mental Illness (NAMI) www.nami.org
Helpline 1.800.950.NAMI (6264); write to email@example.com
Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1.800.273.TALK (8255)
Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration
Reach a Licensed Professional Counselor/Therapist/Online in your State By Zip Code. Locate a Counselor/Therapist. Or contact us at Kenyan Parents In The USA for more resources in the community.
To reach a Board Certified Christian Counselor/Therapist/by your Zip Code
visit AACC>American Association of Christian Counselors/www.christiancounselordirectory.com
Or in GA/Georgia Christian Counselors Association, Marietta/www.GaChristianCounselors.org
Children/Adolescents/>Ask your Child’s/Teen’s School Counselor or Psychologist. Also College & University/Psychologist. Help is available.
0nline/Read Other Articles by Rev. Wambûi Njoroge/ Like Lets Talk About The Bible. The Belt. And Child Abuse, Or request a Family Forum in your community for a fee.
His Servant & Friend,
Rev Wambui Njoroge, M.Sci (Child & Family Studies). 0rdained Minister. Previously worked as Child/Adolescent & their Families within GA Public School System/ Pre-K- 12th grade/& Outpatient- Behavioral Health Services.