A Community Based Organization (CBO) has rolled out mental health awareness and counseling programmes for minors to reverse the effects and burden of the disease in Kisumu County.
The CBO, Freedom in Healing which started operations in 2021, also targets to empower the minors to counter the rising number of sexual violence cases in the area.
Freedom in Healing Founder Felicity Mudis said the CBO has introduced programmes to help the minors navigate societal and personal problems to enable them survive various challenges in life.
She said the programmes included suicide prevention awareness and free therapy for minors exposed to violence and abuse among other challenges within the society.
Mothers, she added, have been roped into the initiative where they are trained to create safe spaces and a conducive environment for the children as they grow up.
“Minors have a lot going on in their lives as they transition into adulthood. Some may have issues in their homes or schools that they are afraid to speak about and that’s why we have free therapy sessions and programs suitable for them in order to help them find ways to tackle these issues,” she said.
Mudis said poverty remained a big challenge resulting in stress amongst minors, especially girls who cannot afford sanitary towels.
Lack of sanitary towels has seen many girls drop out of school while others were silently battling depression affecting their well-being, she added.
“Period poverty predisposes these girls to sexual violence since they may fall prey to sexual offenders who may lure them with money. This has led to early pregnancies and early marriages,” she said.
As a result, some of the girls ended up in risky relationships while others abused drugs to cope with life, noted Mudis.
“The minors may not be able to understand some of the signs of trauma and mental illness that is why mental health awareness is key to ensure that they live a healthy life free from physical and mental torture,” she said.
The CBO, she disclosed, has started a Pads Drive programme to rally well-wishers and members of the public to donate pads to assist vulnerable children in the area.
To scale up counseling services, Mudis said the CBO has partnered with a local firm to reach out to more minors in the area.
She said the response has been positive with more girls trickling at Kasule Community Bible Church in Kisumu where the counseling services were being offered.