We recently caught up with Maureen Gikonyo, a mental wellness champion and a Co-founder and Executive Director at Speak Mind Love Foundation.

Here are Maureen’s insights on the need to open up more about our struggles and feelings, the role of the society in ensuring that everyone is leading a mentally healthy life.

Why is it important for people to open up more about their innermost feelings and struggles?

Maureen: I have always believed that, though sharing a problem might not always solve it, it helps you release a burden you are carrying and the journey feels a lot more bearable afterward.

Opening up helps us release a lot of emotions, thoughts, and stress. This ensures that we are able to readjust and look for possible solutions to whatever is disturbing us.

Human beings are emotional beings – we were all created to feel and no one is perfect. It is okay to go through challenges. It is okay to not have it all figured out. It okay to be imperfect. It is okay not to be okay. It is very okay to speak about it.

As a society, how best can we support the people who are affected by mental health conditions?

Maureen: The best thing the society could ever do is to avoid judging people affected by mental health conditions. Instead, we should create safe spaces for them to speak out and open up about their inner struggles. Let us challenge ourselves to listen more, love more, care more and check up on those close to us more often. Let us normalize reaching to help others.

Where cases are severe, let us help them get professional help from counselors, behaviorists, psychologists, psychiatrists, community health officers among others.

What advice do you have for people who are too embarrassed to get help?

Maureen: It’s okay not to be okay, it’s okay to not have it figured out, it’s okay to go through challenges, it’s okay to be imperfect. We all hit rock bottom at one point or the other. What is most important is how we bounce back after we hit rock bottom. Seeking help is not weak. Seeking help is brave.

Let us challenge ourselves to listen more, love more, care more and check up on those close to us more often. Let us normalize reaching to help others.

Maureen Gikonyo, Co-founder and Executive Director at Speak Mind Love Foundation.

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