#RADA: The Student-Developed App that’s about to change the world of Mental Health Awareness

After cases of Suicide and killings all over the country pertaining to the youth, the country is becoming more aware and open to discussions about Depression and Mental Health Awareness in General.

A good case is such that of Owen Macharia, a marketing graduate who locked himself in a room, drank a poison concoction and then hanged himself with his belt. It would later emerge that  Owen had uploaded a suicide message on Facebook citing frustrations in finding better employment as the reason why he no longer desired to go on living. Some social media users urged him to go ahead and kill himself. That is exactly what Owen did. This is not the only case. Just some weeks before then, other day, a form three student was reported to have hanged herself in a dormitory at Butere Girls High School.


And one afternoon, in 2002, Irene Wanjiku, a fourth-year Bachelor of Arts student accompanied her cousin to a church event. They later diverted to a police station to say hello to one of his cousin’s friend. To Irene’s shock, her cousin left her with this friend. Afterwards, as Irene confesses, the man convinced her to go to his home to meet her cousin there. What happened afterwards is something that has haunted her since. Irene was sexually assaulted. “He forced himself on me and when I bled he laughed and made fun of the fact that I was a virgin. When my cousin later came for me, he scoffed at her that she should teach me how to be a woman,” Irene recalls.

For 13 years, this event remained her best-kept secret even as she struggled to find peace with herself. She became so troubled that at one point she attempted suicide. Irene joined campus in 2006 carrying this load with her. “I drank a lot and slept around pretty much. I had low self-esteem and I hated studies. I was angry, bitter, and moody. Life just lacked meaning. The rape made me feel so filthy and that was the only way I felt I could relieve my pain,” says Irene.

During this period, Irene confesses that she quit college and suffered a broken relationship due to, what she would later discover was, depression. “It was a very confusing time for me because I had suffered for quite some time before I got to know I had depression.” This realisation drove her back to school to study psychiatry so that she could understand her condition better. She also began consulting a psychiatrist who encouraged her to share her tribulations, as part of her healing, with people she trusted.

These are not the only cases of Suicide and attempted Suicide due to depression and other related Mental Health Disorders.

Most young people feel as though they cannot speak out about their struggles especially to the older generation who are their parents, mentors, and role models because of the judgment and stigmatization they are faced with at that time.

It is due to such cases where a group of students from University of Nairobi came up with an App where it seeks to help the youth at large, with cases of depression and mental health.

The life-changing app, provides information through reading material, as well as and links to other sources of information, and provides interactive sessions where people are able to share and interact with each other on matters regarding mental health, alcoholisim and drug abuse.

They are hopeful that the application will be picked up by other universities along the way, to be able to provide students with information and for better service delivery.

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