About Sitawa

Photo Credit : Thumbi Mwangi

As an eighteen year old, Sitawa was a victim of sexual assault. In the aftermath of this event she experienced significant depression, was suicidal and the unchecked trauma was later diagnosed as bipolar disorder. The year before the assault, she had been diagnosed with epilepsy. With no support system and proper coping mechanisms, she dropped out of Actuarial school at the University of Nairobi. She found it hard to keep a job, facing stigma and misunderstanding in the workplace. 

Out of this experience, a decade of fact finding, and a burning passion to see people in Africa have the chance to access proper support and information concerning mental health she launched My Mind My Funk; a mental health information and support hub that creates awareness and provides linkages to mental health service providers. 

Through the platform, she uses her personal journey as ‎rape survivor with a dual diagnosis of epilepsy and bipolar to provide people in Africa with the necessary information and support to not only handle mental health conditions but also deal with everyday life‎ This led to her winning a Google Award and she used the prize money to set up and run Kenya's first free mental health and epilepsy SMS support line which ran for one year, serving over 11,000 Kenyans by linking them with psychiatrists, psychologists and support groups.
Her work and journey have ‎been featured in various national (NTVCitizenand international media outlets (BBC,  Al-JaazeraWNYC Radio, Dutch Newspaper  and an Indian Newspaper). As a writer, Sitawa contributes regularly to Kenya's Daily Nation Newspaper and recently became a contributing blogger for The Huffington Post.‎ ‎ Her op‎inion pieces on various aspects of mental health have been published widely from National Public Radio (NPR),‎ AllAfrica.com.‎  to South Africa’s Mail and Guardian with a world mental health day piece on the need for mental health to be included in the “Africa Rising” narrative getting syndicated in 4 Kenyan newspapers. ‎As a speaker Sitawa has done TED talks, MOTH Stories, The Aspen Ideas ‎Festival Spotlight Health (s‎he is  Aspen Institute fellow - 2016)Mental Health America's Annual Conference ‎ ‎among other platforms. 

Sitawa has ‎served as the Assistant Secretary of Kenya's National Epilepsy Coordination Council and has been part of the Kenyan mental health policy review committee from the initial conversations till its launch in 2016. ‎ The Ministry of Health, Kenya recognises her as a Non Communicable Disease champion her work in awareness creation. 
Her major interest is in the social and preventative aspects of mental health in Africa and she dreams of an Africa where there is access to mental health information and appropriate support for everyone. 

She is currently doing a tour dubbed Akili ni Mali  loosely translates to Mind is Wealth where she is using storytelling to spark conversation about mental health in different spaces as her way of celebrating 14 years of strength (as a rape survivor). 

Awards and recognitions;
50 Global Social Impactors - World CSR Day
42 African Innovators to watch 2016  - Ventures Africa

Aspen New Voices Fellow 2016 - Aspen Institute
Top 40 under 40 women 2015 - Business Daily
Non communicable Disease Champion Kenya 2015 - Ministry of Health, Kenya
Google Africa Connected Winner 2014 - Google
Activist of the Year 2013 - Malaika Trust
East Africa Youth Philanthropist 2013 - East Africa Association of Grantmakers
Named one of the top 100 movers and shakers - Drum Magazine 

Published Opinion Pieces ( opeds)‎;‎

Jan 16th, 2017 - Need to have mental healthcare in schools on Daily Nation, Kenya

Jan 2017 - Essay for OCR Recovery
Dec 15th, 2016 - It’s time to pay attention to mental health on Daily Nation, Kenya

Oct 2016 - World Mental Health Day oped syndicated in 4 local newspapers; The People DailyThe StarThe Standard and The Daily Nation 
July 5, 2016 - When I Was Diagnosed With Bipolar Disorder, People Thought I Was Cursed on NPR 

May 4, 2016 Africa - As Internet Access Expands in Africa, so does Cyber Harassment on AllAfrica.com 

Media Interviews/Features;
Jan 8, 2017 - Indian Newspaper feature
Jan 5, 2017 - PRI - Takeaway radio interview 

Jan 1, 2017 - 7 Women Trailblazers who took a stand in 2016 NPR

Feb 17, 2016 - Kenyan Blogger tackles Depression BBC.
Oct 24, 2015 - Victoria's Lounge discussing depression 
Oct 9, 2015- We’re not educated on the serious harm we cause each other daily on Daily Nation
Aug 17, 2015 - Epilepsy Awareness on Citizen TV 
Aug 13, 2015 - Dutch Newspaper interview

Feb 2017 - TED Talk
Dec 2016 - MOTH In a heartbeat, Washington DC

Aug 2016 - MOTH Evening of StoryTelling, Nairobi
June 2016 - Aspen Idea Festival Spotlight Health, Aspen 
June 2016 - Mental Health America's Annual Conference,Washington DC‎
Sept 30th, 2015 - IBM and The Nest's #whatsnext panel: healthtech and health care innovation in Africa , Nairobi‎

Aug 11, 2015 - UN International Youth Day (The Role of the Youth in Post 2015 Development Agenda, specifying on Health) 
July 7, 2015 - Young Female Entrepreneurs meeting with the President 

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