Nakuru groups bring fun to the elderly in prison

It was fun and dance at the Nakuru GK prison on Monday when three organizations from Nakuru celebrated the International Day of Older Persons with elderly inmates at the men’s prison.
Psychiatric Disability Organization (PDO), the Kenya Red Cross and Nakuru Players Theater joined hands to bring smiles to the older inmates faces most of whom are spending their twilight years forgotten by families and friend.
The day set aside by the United Nations is commemorated on October 1st. This year’s theme is “Stepping into the Future: Tapping the Talents, Contributions and Participation of Older Persons in Society.”
This year’s day was about enabling and expanding the contributions of older people in their families, communities and societies at large. It focuses on the pathways that support full and effective participation in old age, in accordance with old persons’ basic rights, needs and preferences.
The event started with expressive therapy and talk therapy that was conducted by PDO, a local organization that provides weekly psychosocial support visits to both male and female facility.
Speaking at the event, PDO Founder/CEO Iregi Mwenja emphasized the need for the society to take care of the elderly citing the various health challenges that come with age.
“Dimentia characterized by deterioration in memory, thinking, behaviour and the ability to perform everyday tasks is a common condition in the elderly”, he said.
The Nakuru Players’ Theater entertained the elderly inmates with songs, spoken word, comedy and dancing routine while the Red Cross team provided donations of clothes and soaps.
 Mercy Mongare is a Project Officer with Psychiatric Disability Organization based in Nakuru. Facebook: 

How do I tell if I have maternal depression?

Maternal depression includes a range of conditions that can affect women during pregnancy and up to one year postpartum. This spectrum of conditions includes prenatal depression, the “baby blues,” postpartum depression and postpartum psychosis.
The symptoms of maternal depression that occur during or after pregnancy are similar. If you experience more than five of the following symptoms, everyday for at least two consecutive weeks you may be suffering from maternal depression.
These includes, feeling extreme sadness, hopelessness or emptiness, crying all the time, lack of interest in what you normally enjoyed, trouble falling asleep at night or staying awake during the day and loss of appetite or eating too much.
Other includes unintentional weight loss or gain, overpowering guilt, restlessness or sluggishness, being irritable or angry, avoiding friends and family, worrying excessively about your baby and being uninterested in your baby or unable to care for her.
Some of the main causes of maternal depression include; genetic, emotional, hormonal and environmental factors. Some of the women who experience it feel responsible for causing it. However depression doesn’t occur because of something you did or didn’t do.
A new parent may also be likely to suffer from post partum depression if they experienced depression or anxiety during their pregnancy. Other factors that can contribute to the development of post partum depression are physical exhaustion after giving birth, sleep deprivation and the emotional adjustment of becoming a parent.
Maternal depression has similar treatment as depression which include; talk therapy, it can be one-on-one or in a group setting with other women who have similar experiences. Antidepressants are also prescribed to balance the brain chemicals that regulate your mood.
Electroconvulsive therapy is offered to women who experience postpartum psychosis that doesn’t respond to medication or talk therapy. The electrical stimulations cause chemical changes in the brain that relieve depression symptoms.
In order to cope with maternal depression you need to get professional help.  In addition try to sleep and eat well, be gentle with yourself and take things one at a time. Ask for help when you need it.
Being a good mother knows when to ask for help. Finally share your feelings. Call a sympathetic friend or join a support group and share your feelings.
PDO can be of great help too if you are experiencing post partum depression. Don’t hesitate to contact us in the following lines: +2540723713642 call or text. Facebook (Psychiatric Disability Organisation of Kenya) Website

Let’s talk suicide

September is suicide awareness month. Suicide, the act of taking one’s own life is more common than most Kenyans think. This is because it is rarely reported due to the stigma attached to it.
There are two types of suicidal ideation; passive and active. Passive suicidal ideation is characterized by a desire to die but with no specific plan. However, active suicidal ideation involves a desire to die accompanied by a specific plan on how execute it.
Anyone who has an active suicidal ideation or knows someone who has it should seek medical assistance immediately. Most people who die by suicide didn’t actually want to die they just wished for the pain to go away.
Suicide is not a mental illness in itself, but a serious potential consequence of treatable mental disorders. Over 90 per cent of people who die by suicide have clinical depression or another diagnosable mental disorder.
In order for us to prevent suicides in our community, we should be able to identify the signs of suicidal behaviors and take action.
Symptoms includes; feeling helpless, psychosis, self-loathing, hopelessness, paranoia, intense emotional pain, feeling hopeless about a situation, mood swings and sudden changes in personality, severe anxiety and agitation.
Behavioral symptoms include; giving away prized possessions, talking about death, using phrase such as “when I’m gone”… or “I’m going to kill myself”.
Others include getting affairs in order, saying goodbye to loved ones, obtaining items needed for suicide attempt, decrease social contact, increasing drug and alcohol usage, withdrawing from once-pleasurable activities and increased risky behaviors.
If you any of the above symptoms, you might be afraid to bring up the subject but remember talking openly about suicidal thoughts and feelings can save a life. Don’t let you loved one struggle alone. They need help; they need someone to talk to. They need reassurance and an empathetic listening ear.
Most important, get professional help as soon as you can. There are several suicide help line including; +254203000378/2051323 TEXT (22214)
Mercy Mong’are is a Project Officer with Psychiatric Disability Organization. Website:  Facebook: 

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