Mental health: be part of the solution

Mental health has made quite the buzz lately. We have all joined in, but what do we really mean when we speak of mental health? According to the Oxford Dictionary, mental health is described as a person’s condition with regard to their psychological and emotional well-being.

According to the World Health Organization, Depression is one of the leading causes of disability with suicide being the second leading cause of death among 15-29 year-olds. It’s also been noted that people with severe mental health conditions die prematurely, with as much as twenty years earlier due to preventable physical conditions.

Across the world, mental health has proven to be something that we can no longer afford to ignore. In Kenya, the tune is the same! 

Recently we had the Mental Health Taskforce, which was instituted by the President recommend that mental illness be declared a National Emergency of epidemic proportions. We also had the government launch the Kenya Mental Health Policy 2015-2030, which states that at least 1 in every 4 Kenyans suffers from mental ill health at a point in their lifetime. That translates to approximately 12 million Kenyans.

The numbers paints a scary picture, but to some these are not just statistics, they have lived it or been affected by it in one way or another!

We have all spoken about it, but this now sparks the question; How can I be part of the solution? We only wish there were one answer to this question but with the various components of mental health, there could not possibly be just one solution.

What there is, though, is one solution that we are passionate about, EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE. Individuals with mental disorders tend to have lower overall emotional intelligence. Several studies have shown that emotional abilities are of very particular relevance to psychological health and wellbeing.

It has also been found that emotional problems are related to the tendency to get involved in deviant and self-destructive behavior. A different study showed that individuals with high EQ are 8 times more likely to lead a high quality of life than those with lower scores. 

What is this Emotional Intelligence? 

A lot of people define it in a lot of ways but a practical way of defining it is, it’s being aware of our emotions, and that emotions can drive our behavior and impact people (both positively and negatively), and learning how to manage these emotions, both our own and others.

What are the benefits of being emotionally intelligent? Well, at a personal level, it helps us do the following;

  • Allows us to have uncomfortable or triggering conversations without hurting feelings.
  • It positions us to manage our emotions when we are stressed or feeling overwhelmed.
  • It equips us to improve relationships with those we love and care about.

Well, these are just some of the benefits.

On a professional level, Emotional Intelligence helps you;

  • Resolve Conflicts with our colleagues and teammates.
  • Create a collaborative environment.
  • Helps motivate others and to manage team psyche, increasing their productivity.
  • Helps create a psychologically safe environment within teams.

Just like the normal IQ, you can also work on and improve your EQ, because it all boils down to your emotional skills. Knowing about it is just the first step, going out and learning more about it is where the real magic happens.

A limited number of companies have the resources and tools to properly equip one on emotional intelligence. Here in Kenya, we have  Profiles International East Africa the official partner of  Genos International, who have developed various assessments that facilitate Emotional Intelligence Certifications.

One well known Certified Emotional Intelligence practitioners who is taking bold steps into helping people become more emotionally aware and present is Mr Derek Banga.

Well, now that we have told you about it, the rest is all up to you. Do not be comfortable being about the crowd that only speaks of mental health, educate yourself and take the next step and be part of the solution!