“There isn’t one single cause of mental illness. It is often a combination of genetic pre-disposition, temperaments or ways of thinking, and social stressors and these accumulate for some time,” said Dr Ngwiri.
Dr Ngwiri noted that parents should be keen to take note of signs of mental illness in children which include sleeping difficulties, bedwetting after long dry periods and refusal to go to school.
“Parents must be vigilant to spot any signs of distress in their children sometimes, mental illnesses present with physical symptoms such as abdominal pain, unexplained headaches or fainting episodes,” Dr Ngwiri noted.
Gertrude’s CEO Dr Robert Nyarango on his part insisted that parents should take it upon themselves to help their children seek medical assistance and should overlook traditional approaches to mental health wellness.
“Parents have a responsibility to not only look out for signs of mental distress in their children, but also provide them with access to services that will help them address those issues. While talking about mental illnesses is still seen as taboo in some contexts, ignoring the topic is likely to lead to serious repercussions,” Dr Nyarango noted.
The report by further revealed that the Covid-19 pandemic increased the number of children who were mentally unwell as the long periods away from school exposed many to different forms of abuse.