Kenyans are living in turbulent times. The economy has left many reeling with trying to make ends meet as interest rates shoot through the roof, the cost of living going up and the shilling weakening by the day. Each passing day, cases of corruption are coming to the front and anxiety levels, as well as the economic burden becomes heavier, this is leaving the average Kenyan facing stress levels not seen before.
At the home front, children are at home with the teachers on strike. The exams are losing credibility each passing day and parents and their children are getting disillusioned on the future. This in turn has led to children engaging in all manner of behaviors and the parents have been left lamenting on the folly of youth.
Political temperatures are rising each passing day. Fear of violence is palpable in most individuals, especially the middle and low income earners. Memories of the 2007-2008 skirmishes are being relieved and 2017 is full of uncertainty. The judicial system, which most people want to rely on, is no longer ‘seen’ to serve justices to all and it’s now everyone for themselves.
Unpredictable climatic changes have also left Kenyans a confused lot. The general populace is worried on the preparedness of extreme weather change and the forecasts are doing little to allay these fears.
Studies indicate that climate change affects the psychological well being of a person indirectly, and can be some of the most devastating effects in terms of human suffering, and the most difficult to address and quantify.
The severity of mental health impacts following extreme weather disaster depends on the degree to which there is sufficient coping and support capacity during and after the event. Extreme weather and other climate related events can have a variety of psychological impacts on communities and individuals, from acute traumatic stress to chronic mental disorders, such as depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, sleep difficulties, social avoidance, irritability, and drug or alcohol abuse. Chronic mental disorders can also lead to additional negative health effects.
Studies have shown that there is a direct correlation between stress levels and mental disorders. These disorders result from abnormal responses to acute or prolonged anxiety, and can include obsessive-compulsive disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder.
University of California, Berkeley, researchers have shown that chronic stress generates long-term changes in the brain that may explain why people suffering chronic stress are prone to mental problems such as anxiety and mood disorders later in life.
As stress levels keep on rising in the country, more and more people are finding themselves going down more easily with diseases that were not common a while back. Mental health disorders are becoming more common not only among the adult population but also the youth and adolescents.
All this calls for each to be more keen on not only checking how we react to what happens within our environment but also on identifying and consulting mental health professionals whenever signs point towards rise in stress levels.