Mental health is a cornerstone of child development at every stage of life. This year’s Mental Health Awareness Week, we emphasized breaking down stigma and encouraging people to prioritize their mental well-being and that of others. The theme, “Movement: Moving for Our Mental Health,” resonated deeply with many communities.

In line with this theme, Compassion International Kenya has launched a Church-Led Community Initiative on Mental Health and Drug Use across 69 Front Line Church Partners in Nairobi, Kilifi, Siaya-Kisumu, and Nakuru. This initiative aims to raise awareness about mental health and drug use among adolescents and youth, training 1,374 ambassadors to serve as peer mentors. These regions were identified due to their high incidence of mental health issues and drug abuse in the 2021 financial year. Guided by faith, we trust God’s unwavering presence as we tackle these critical issues.

A shining example of grassroots leadership comes from a group of youth in Kilifi who have registered a Community-Based Organization (CBO) called “Hope for The Future” through the Ministry of Public Service, Department of Gender and Social Services. This group launched the Tusemezane initiative, focusing on a proactive approach to mental health concerns and fostering connectedness among the youth. Tusemezane aims to educate adolescents and youth about the importance of mental health and drug use prevention by training them as ambassadors.

When prioritizing mental health, individuals can better manage stress, maintain physical health, build positive relationships, and contribute meaningfully to their communities. This week, we celebrate the Hope for the Future group for their noble cause. In Kenya, mental health is often stigmatized, but initiatives like Tusemezane highlight the critical need for mental health awareness and support through mentorship and training.

The passion and motivation were palpable at the Tusemezane launch. Ambassadors from the CBO shared their thoughts while training others, focusing on several critical programs: training more champions to promote mental health awareness, establishing youth support networks, creating community outreach and advocacy programs, conducting peer education workshops to reduce stigma, offering hotline services for immediate support, crisis intervention, and referrals to appropriate healthcare, and running child protection programs and campaigns against gender-based violence.

Mental health encompasses emotional, psychological, and social well-being. Good mental health helps us handle stress, relate to others, and make healthy choices. Initiatives like Tusemezane are crucial in assisting individuals in understanding and prioritizing their mental health and fostering a healthier, more connected community.

As we continue to move together for mental health, let’s celebrate and support these initiatives that bring hope and healing to our youth.

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