- Pastor Dorcas Rigathi has issued a heartfelt call to Kenyans, urging them to extend their support to individuals grappling with mental illness, emphasizing the need for communities to embrace those affected.
- The CEO of My Afya Africa Nancy Kihara echoed the pastor's sentiments, emphasizing that mental health is not solely an individual concern but a collective societal responsibility.
Pastor Dorcas Rigathi has issued a heartfelt call to Kenyans, urging them to extend their support to individuals grappling with mental illness, emphasizing the need for communities to embrace those affected.
The Spouse of the Deputy President made these remarks during her opening address at the "Storytelling for Mental Health " forum held at Daystar University, Valley Road.
In her poignant address, Pastor Dorcas Rigathi shared her personal struggles, stating, "When not Okay, it is still okay, don’t change you as a person, change their way, you do things relate, and find someone to talk to. Do not think that you are the only one who is in that situation. I may be the second lady in the Republic of Kenya, but I can tell you at one time at one point I was in KU and because of circumstances at home I wanted to commit suicide. Therefore it is not only you, but many people are going through this."
With candour, she highlighted the societal misconceptions surrounding mental health, particularly in African culture, where people often attribute mental health issues to supernatural causes. She urged for a change in this mindset.
"This mental health is real, but because of the many views that we have about it and especially in Africa, our culture has not appreciated the matters of mental health," she said.
"And therefore, when you find a quarrelling mother and angry parents, you find a shouting sister, all we say they are mad, others we say they are bewitched and we look for solutions outside and we give excuses and we say that those people, they have no redemption, but I have come today to tell you as a mother, there is hope there is Don’t give up because it is possible to be in that situation and to overcome."
She emphasized the crucial role played by a supportive family and community in helping individuals with mental illness.
"Even in that condition (Mental illness), if you can control and have a family that is supportive and a community around you that understands you, it is possible to overcome, and that condition becomes your platform to help others," she said.
Pastor Dorcas went on to express her concern about the pervasive issue of mental health, not only in Kenya but globally, including within educational institutions.
"If your working community or the people around you are not understanding you, and they become judgmental, it will drive you crazy and might even drive you to your grave. Mental Health is a crisis in our country, and the world, even in the universities," she added.
The CEO of My Afya Africa Nancy Kihara echoed the pastor's sentiments, emphasizing that mental health is not solely an individual concern but a collective societal responsibility.
"Mental Health is not a personal issue, but a societal responsibility. If one of us is not affected, I am sure we have had an experience," Kihara stated.
The forum served as a platform for University, College, and TVET students, as well as therapists and other stakeholders, to come together and address the pressing issue of mental health in Kenya and beyond.
With Pastor Dorcas Rigathi's impassioned plea and the collective commitment to raising awareness, the forum marked a significant step toward fostering a more compassionate and understanding society when it comes to mental health challenges.