Kisumu mental-illness survivor advocates for help to victims

Loice Omondi, 30, is lucky to have overcome mental illness and now she has sought to be a champion and human rights defender for persons with mental health challenges in Kisumu County.

While speaking to KNA during the Pre-Africities Summit Youth Forum held at Kisumu Rotary Innovation Centre Friday, Omondi called upon various stakeholders to encourage conversations around mental health among people to improve their wellbeing.

“If you are not infected, you are also affected and almost everyone suffers from mental health and we urge those involved to address this matter carefully and productively,” she explained.

She believes that it is high time the victims are offered psychosocial support as a remedy to this menace affecting many people in society.

Omondi attributed her gains to the Kisumu County Department of Health for supporting her during difficult times.

“We have partnered with the County Government Department of Health who have shown great interest in issues that pertain to mental health in the region,” she added.

Treatment of mental illness, she said, is a rigorous activity which involves Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT) of the brain, a procedure done under general anesthesia, in which small electric currents are passed through the brain, intentionally triggering a brief seizure.

She admits that the drugs that patients are subjected to are so powerful and some may lead to death if not well used.

“These drugs deal with the brain and can complicate some and may lead to death. Prescription goes up to 90 days for patients having extreme side effects,” Omondi stated.

Omondi says that people do not regard mental illness as a disability, therefore, neglecting it is the reason why many victims are on the streets.

She singled out that it was only during Covid-19 when well-wishers came out in numbers to provide the basic and necessary amenities such as sanitary towels, and food clothing which was short-lived but the victims were not independent.

Additionally, she lauded local Governor Prof. Anyang’ Nyong’o’s administration for offering a waiver for patients who were undergoing treatment and do not have insurance cover.

“We advocate for earlier detection and identification of the trigger since we only have two psychiatrists consultants who have a unit at Jaramogi Oginga Odinga Teaching and Referrals (JOOTRH).

Sensitization, she said, is a game-changer in demystifying the stigmatization that society has against the victims of mental health.

She attended the forum to tell the youths about the possibilities to overcome mental problems. She hopes to demonstrate to the delegates present during Africities summit in Kisumu why the cities must work to see the reduction of mentally ill persons in their streets.

Apart from the County Government, Omondi has received immense support from TINADA Youth Organization, Red Cross and local authorities.

Since she started advocating for these special people in society, Omondi boasts of several achievements such as fighting to get ECT machines, partnering with the County Health Department to get the victims out of the streets as well as ensuring their rights are catered for in a court of law.

She maintains that making follow up with the patient’s guidance and kin is a game-changer in making great milestones against the war on mental problems.

At the summit, if given a chance to showcase, she will explain how Kisumu as a County has gone ahead in terms of managing mental health related issues.



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