Nairobi – A recent study by Gertrude’s Children Hospital estimates that between 20 and 40 percent of Kenyan children may suffer from mental illness, a situation they attribute to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The head of clinical services at Gertrude Hospital, Thomas Ngwiri, said the pandemic had had a negative effect on the mental health of children due to disruptions in routines, education and family, as well as concerns about family income and health, which he says have fueled anxiety and fear in many people. young people whose future now seems uncertain.
According to Ngwiri, there is no single cause of mental illness, saying it is often a combination of genetic predispositions, temperaments or thought patterns and social stressors.
He noted that it can take up to 16 months for teens to see a mental health professional as soon as their symptoms appear.
“Parents must be vigilant to spot any sign of distress in their children such as difficulty sleeping, bedwetting after a few dry months, difficulty concentrating or even refusing to go to school. Sometimes, illnesses Mental illnesses present with physical symptoms such as abdominal pain, unexplained headaches or fainting spells,” he said.
The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Gertrude Children’s Hospital, Robert Nyarango, also reiterated that parents should help their children access professional services if they show signs of mental illness.
He said it was important to allow children to voice their concerns, respond appropriately and adopt counseling where necessary to help them cope with mental illness.
As part of the measures to address mental problems in children, Dr Nyarango said the facility has a department that is dedicated to helping young people up to 21 years old, who are struggling with mental health issues. Mental Health.
“While talking about mental illnesses is still considered taboo in some settings, ignoring the topic is likely to have serious repercussions,” he said.