In Kenya, having a child has always been considered a blessing. Aside from the swahili phrase “ kuzaa si kazi, kulea ndo kazi,” there are many other things that come with the big news and maternal mental illness is one of them. Many expectant women in Kenya face mental health problems yet these mental health care and research remains underfunded in Kenya. Perinatal mood disorders usually occur during the perinatal period i.e during and after the pregnancy period. Most common disorders diagnosed during this period include depression, anxiety, panic attacks and postpartum psychosis. Suicidal ideation could be part of the symptoms women encounter which endangers their life and that of their baby.
Kenya as a developing country is still struggling with illnesses that are biased as visible like malaria and invisible illness such as mental illness still remains stigmatized as “less serious”. Therefore, access to mental health care remains a challenge to mothers. In the light of Covid-19 pandemic, hospitals have limited visits leading to further alienation of women to mental health care. The government, together with health officials and other stakeholders should find solutions to support mothers experiencing maternal mental illness. Strategies need to be put in place that will help women undergoing any kind of maternal mental health issues. By empowering women who are mentally well, we give women the capacity to raise happy and healthy children. For women struggling with perinatal mental health disorders, we should encourage them to embrace mental health seeking behaviour for early diagnosis and treatment. Our country can only be better if we all join hands on mental health promotion, prevention and treatment. It is time for everyone to make this work, by being there for anyone that needs our help and by seeking help when we need it.