#Mentalhealth is not a dumping site; My protest Note

1:50:00 PM

With Boniface Mwangi at The Dutch Embassy Kenya where he was awarded with the Prince Claus Award

Sometime last week I managed to catch part of Piers Morgan’s Interview with one of the parents of the school children shot at the Connecticut school. The interview was a follow-up of a meeting on Gun laws and what should be done. I will opt not to discuss about guns and gun laws and dwell more on the attention mental health has received throughout the debate. As I listened to the interview and the how the meeting on Gun laws went and the way the parent was ‘attacked’ with cries of the 2nd Amendment, three things came to mind;

1.       Loose talk
Immediately after the shooting, in a conversation with random people someone said this,

‘If the shooter is black, he had anger problems,
If he was a white, he had mental health problems
and if he was Asian, he was definitely a terrorist.’

This right here is what I call high class stereotyping, just because some things lean more to one side does not mean everything we see that resembles that thing follows suit. A movie I once watched, The Pregnancy Project I think, described stereotype as a putting people/things that we do not want to deal with in a box and putting the box away. That is what I feel is being done to mental health with all the tossing it is receiving from all the gun law talks going round. I believe if all these governments that are ‘discussing gun laws’ should be sincere in their discussions and give proper gun laws and should there be a need to address mental health, it should be done to its totality and not to the extend it suits the discussion.  I have listened to many a discussion, including The America Gun Debate and the answer by many as to why people are ‘going insane’ and killing aimlessly, showing now concern for humanity is because they have mental health issues. So my question is, if they have mental health disorders, what should you work on; Mental Health Policy and Legislation, Advocacy and Awareness Creation, Screening and Diagnosis or Reducing the number of guns and having a back and forth with those who support everyone to be their own protector and it’s my 2nd Amendment right crusaders or both?

It is disheartening to see Mental Health used as a dump site for the reason why it is all happening but no one is looking at ‘ending this cause’. Let’s be wise.

2.       Dustbin
The whole dustbin debate came from a stakeholder’s meeting where there was a debate on whether intellectual disabilities should be grouped with mental health disorders and one of the Professors in the room said he does not see why Mental Health should be a dustbin for all other illnesses. Today I look at the all the places mental health has been used and see the way it is an excuse for so many societal ills. This post is about a person with mental health disorders seeking face, a face that is repeatedly smeared with all ills and all things negative. I do not disagree with the fact that once provoked or not properly diagnosed, persons with mental health disorders can do a whole load of damage. Instead of provoking them by smearing an illness most are struggling to accept and live with, something needs to be done to reduce the stigma and avoiding negative talk and all the dumping is a nice place to start.

Gabrielle Giffords’ Hubby mentioned mental illness twice or thrice in his introduction but in all his four recommendations, none were on mental health, at least LaPierre gave a few mentions in his. Anyone who has not received positive mental health advocacy watching that debate will have more ‘horrifying’ viewpoints about mental health and those with mental health disorders forgetting that we are all on our way to having a mental health disorder as soon as we meet our trigger.

3.       Haki yetu
On Tuesday I had the honor of attending Photoactivist Boniface Mwangi’s Prince Clause Awarding in Kenya at The Dutch Embassy. I have blogged a few times of work I have done with Boniface and I wouldn’t think of anyone better to receive the award. As I stood there and all this people spoke about Boniface and their experiences working with him, his drive, his focus, his love for Kenya and a better place not just for his children but for every Kenyan and when he talked about the risk he and his crew took every night doing graffiti, I came to the realization that sometimes it is not that others are stronger than us, we just do not speak out loud enough r for long enough. My Bible reading this morning was Act 9:1-25 when Saul was converted on his way to Damascus and it hit me, even God works with bodies in motion, just as in the Parable of the talents we need to be in motion. If it is ‘bad’ motion and we are wise, we will accept correction. So this is my protest note, Mental Health is not a dumping site for all other illnesses that have no grouping nor is it for all societal ills.

Later on Tuesday I got to meet a fellow mental health crusader who I have had numerous conversations with on twitter, Roos (@in2mh) and we discussed mental health in Kenya and world over as she has been able to visit a number of countries and it hit me the situation is the same everywhere and it is the high time mental health crusaders around the world and joined hands and gave mental health it dues. If Gun Law makers want to mention mental health, they also need to give recommendations to the same effect. They need to have mental health crusaders/doctors/policy makers in all key decision making bodies right from the National Level all the way to community and family level. It is the right of every human worldwide to live a life free of discrimination, dragging mental health in all societal ills is more than stereotyping, it is discriminating, it is a human right abuse.

Roos gave me two little shoes which we a symbol that I need to keep walking slogan…we all need to keep walking in all we are about.

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