World Mental Health Day Marked in Dadaab

SGBV Mothers Group from Hagadera speak at World Mental Health Day celebrations in Dadaab in which they called for an end to stigmatization of those suffering from mental illnesses. ; As at 9th October 2017, the Dadaab refugee complex had a population of 239,394 refugees and asylum seekers, and consists of four camps: Hagadera, Ifo, Ifo 2 and Dagahaley. 96.2% (230,271) of the refugees are from Somalia. The first camp was established in 1991, when refugees fleeing the civil war in Somalia started to cross the border into Kenya. A second large influx occurred in 2011, when some 130,000 refugees arrived, fleeing drought and famine in southern Somalia.

Refugees in Dadaab marked World Mental Health Day on 10th October 2017 by looking at the treatment of people suffering from mental problems. Over 4500 refugees in Dadaab have been diagnosed with some sort of mental condition.

During the day there were speeches and performances by refugees, refugee leaders, medical practitioners and UNHCR. The Somali Bantu Performance Group from Hagadera camp, one of four camps that make up Dadaab Refugee Complex, performed a skit in which an actor played a man with a mental illness. During the performance the sufferer was tied up using ropes and locked in a house away from sight.

The idea of the performance came from Sadia Ahmed, a 28 year old refugee from the camp and who has resided in Dadaab now for 12 years.

“Our message to the rest of the community is that those suffering from mental illnesses are part of us and should be given care and treatment instead of being locked up at home,” she said.

According to UNHCR Associate Public Health Officer, Dr. Hussein Abdille, mental illness is a common problem in the camp.

“Refugees go through lots of difficulties, like concerns about family members left behind, uncertainty about education and other social services amidst language barriers, lack of adequate opportunities to provide for families, inadequate medical facilities especially when moving from one country to another and many others, which can be regarded as causes of mental health complications,” he explained.

Kenya. 2017 World Health Mental Day celebrations in Dadaab

Mr. Dagir, Special Needs Education Chairman in Hagadera Camp makes his remarks at the World Health Mental Day celebrations in Dadaab. ; As at 9th October 2017, the Dadaab refugee complex had a population of 239,394 refugees and asylum seekers, and consists of four camps: Hagadera, Ifo, Ifo 2 and Dagahaley. 96.2% (230,271) of the refugees are from Somalia. The first camp was established in 1991, when refugees fleeing the civil war in Somalia started to cross the border into Kenya. A second large influx occurred in 2011, when some 130,000 refugees arrived, fleeing drought and famine in southern Somalia.

Kenya. 2017 World Health Mental Day celebrations in Dadaab

SGBV Mothers Group from Hagadera speak at World Mental Health Day celebrations in Dadaab in which they called for an end to stigmatization of those suffering from mental illnesses. ; As at 9th October 2017, the Dadaab refugee complex had a population of 239,394 refugees and asylum seekers, and consists of four camps: Hagadera, Ifo, Ifo 2 and Dagahaley. 96.2% (230,271) of the refugees are from Somalia. The first camp was established in 1991, when refugees fleeing the civil war in Somalia started to cross the border into Kenya. A second large influx occurred in 2011, when some 130,000 refugees arrived, fleeing drought and famine in southern Somalia.

Kenya. 2017 World Health Mental Day celebrations in Dadaab

Amani Primary School from Hagadera camp performs a Somali dance at the World Mental Health Day celebrations in Dadaab appealing for more support for fellow students suffering from mental illnesses to enable them attend school regularly. ; As at 9th October 2017, the Dadaab refugee complex had a population of 239,394 refugees and asylum seekers, and consists of four camps: Hagadera, Ifo, Ifo 2 and Dagahaley. 96.2% (230,271) of the refugees are from Somalia. The first camp was established in 1991, when refugees fleeing the civil war in Somalia started to cross the border into Kenya. A second large influx occurred in 2011, when some 130,000 refugees arrived, fleeing drought and famine in southern Somalia.

Kenya. 2017 World Health Mental Day celebrations in Dadaab

The Somali Bantu Performance Group from Hagadera performs at the World Mental Health Day celebrations in Dadaab. ; As at 9th October 2017, the Dadaab refugee complex had a population of 239,394 refugees and asylum seekers, and consists of four camps: Hagadera, Ifo, Ifo 2 and Dagahaley. 96.2% (230,271) of the refugees are from Somalia. The first camp was established in 1991, when refugees fleeing the civil war in Somalia started to cross the border into Kenya. A second large influx occurred in 2011, when some 130,000 refugees arrived, fleeing drought and famine in southern Somalia.

Kenya. 2017 World Health Mental Day celebrations in Dadaab

Hassan Yare, comedian and resident of Hagadera camp speaks at World Mental Health Day celebrations in Dadaab. ; As at 9th October 2017, the Dadaab refugee complex had a population of 239,394 refugees and asylum seekers, and consists of four camps: Hagadera, Ifo, Ifo 2 and Dagahaley. 96.2% (230,271) of the refugees are from Somalia. The first camp was established in 1991, when refugees fleeing the civil war in Somalia started to cross the border into Kenya. A second large influx occurred in 2011, when some 130,000 refugees arrived, fleeing drought and famine in southern Somalia.

Kenya. 2017 World Health Mental Day celebrations in Dadaab

A member of the Somali Bantu Performance Group from Hagadera camp lies flat on the ground at the World Mental Health Day celebrations in Dadaab to symbolize the stigma that the mentally ill go through in the camps. Notice the straps on his feet and hands. ; As at 9th October 2017, the Dadaab refugee complex had a population of 239,394 refugees and asylum seekers, and consists of four camps: Hagadera, Ifo, Ifo 2 and Dagahaley. 96.2% (230,271) of the refugees are from Somalia. The first camp was established in 1991, when refugees fleeing the civil war in Somalia started to cross the border into Kenya. A second large influx occurred in 2011, when some 130,000 refugees arrived, fleeing drought and famine in southern Somalia.

Those who attended the event were advised that ill treatment of mental health sufferers was wrong. That attitudes to those suffering needed to change. It was also explained that behaviour such as chaining sufferers to trees, and locking them up, is a human rights violation.

The impact of mental illness on education was also highlighted with Amani Primary School. They performed a dance in which they called on donors, UNHCR and other partners to continue supporting the provision of vital support for those in the education system, battling mental issues. UNHCR’s education partner in Dadaab, the Lutheran World Federation (LWF), were praised for creating programmes to help those in education who suffer mental illness, by ensuring sure they didn’t miss out on an education. Some students have been transferred to schools better equipped to deal with mental health issues, outside Dadaab for better care, thanks to LWF.

And the thousands of others suffering with illness are receiving support UNHCR and other partners like Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF), Kenya Red Cross Society (KRCS), Islamic Relief Kenya (IRK), and International Rescue Committee (IRC).

The event was attended by Kenya government officials and other health partners and NGOs.

According to the United Nations, ‘worldwide more than 300 million people are suffering with some form of mental illness’. UNHCR and its partners work hard to provide the necessary care and support so they can live meaningful lives.