Interview With Immaculate Karanja, Co-Founder of Speak Mind Love Foundation
Our mental health impacts our decision-making process, how we cope with stress, how we relate to other people, how we think, how we feel, and, generally, how we behave every day.
We recently spoke to Immaculate Karanja, Co-Founder at Speak Mind Love Foundation Kenya, on the need to speak up more about our #MentalWellness which is essential to living a happy, fulfilling, and balanced life.
Why is it important for people to open up more about their innermost feelings and struggles?
Immaculate: Many of us are going through a lot at our workplaces, in our families, and in our relationships due to societal pressures and expectations, but we want it to appear as though everything is okay (FINE) when it really isn’t. This largely affects how we connect with and support each other.
In fact, most of the relationships we have are inauthentic. We put on brave faces and want the outside world to see like they have it all together, forgetting that “no one really has it all together”. We have to remember that we are human at the end of the day and “it is okay not to be ok.”
We should reach out more, be authentic, and share our struggles when we are going through rough times because, that way, we shall be able to support each other.
What advice do you have for people who are too embarrassed to get help?
Immaculate: To those who are too embarrassed to get help, there is no shame in asking for help. Everyone is going through a struggle in one way or another; we are all human. It is okay to not have it all together. It is okay not to be okay. Reach out. Do not struggle in silence for you are not alone.
As a society, how best can we support the people who are affected by mental health conditions?
Immaculate: I believe our society has a big role to play in getting rid of the stigma associated with mental health conditions. Perceptions such as ‘talking out when going through issues is a sign of weakness’ or ‘mwanaume ni kukaa ngumu’ should be discouraged as they make many people avoid seeking help so as not to be considered weak.
Second, society should create safe spaces so that people can form support systems among themselves, walking with each other through the good, the bad or the ugly. This is regardless of where we are; in our churches, in our communities, at our workplaces, among our groups of friends, in our families, etc.
Perceptions such as ‘talking out when one is going through issues is a sign of weakness’ or ‘mwanaume ni kukaa ngumu’ should be discouraged..Immaculate Karanja
Let us form such strong support systems that allow us to reach out when we need help and support. It’s good that several mental health initiatives have come up, where we can reach out and support each other. Perceptions such as ‘talking out when one is going through issues is a sign of weakness’ or ‘mwanaume ni kukaa ngumu’ should be discouraged as they make many people avoid seeking help so as not to be considered weak.
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