Christine Miloyo Ombima is a Kenyan social worker and passionate mental health professional. She has worked with NGOs and government parastatals. Christine has lived experience of Bipolar 2 disorder since 2015. This pushed her to advocate for the mental health rights of the vulnerable. Christine runs a mental health organization called Stand Out 4 Mental Health, which has been in existence since August 2016. According to her, “We create awareness through the use of dance, art and fashion”.
Her organization has a peer-to-peer mental health support group that helps those battling different mental health conditions to connect with others undergoing the same challenge. Over time, Christine has participated in mental health policies through the Mental Health Alliance of Kenya. She creates content on mental health which she shares online
The fact that Christine has been unsuccessful in getting formal employment due to her condition has not deterred her from pursuing the dream of being a neuroscientist.
She speaks with Adesewa Oyinloye of Green Savannah Diplomatic Cable on how Stand Out 4 Mental Health has been supporting persons with bipolar disorders
Why did you set up Stand Out 4 Mental Health?
I set up the organization as an avenue for advocating for the rights of those with mental illness. I also use it as a platform for awareness using storytelling as a toll for mental health advocacy.
How much of problem is bipolar disorder in Kenya?
In Kenya, one in every 10 persons suffers from a mental illness. The prevalence of bipolar disorder stands at 9% with the high disease burden persons depending on their families for medication and basic needs. The effects of bipolar mania and depression affect academics, marriage and even work-life. Suicide cases are on the rise among persons with bipolar disorder.
What has your NGO done to create awareness and to help people living with bipolar disorders?
We are offering them a safe space. Professionals are connecting persons with mental illness to help them. The advocacy campaigns that we run on social media have reached many people in Kenya and beyond. We also have psychotherapy sessions for beneficiaries. At Stand Out for Mental Health, we have embarked on mental health advocacy awareness campaigns
What has been the challenge?
The main challenge is funding. We are yet to get finances to run our programs. Many a times, patients lack money for medications. This is challenging as they relapse since we are not able to help them purchase the medicines.
In what areas are you seeking for assistance and collaboration?
We need collaboration with therapists to offer affordable therapy. In addition, we need capacity building for the members so that they can get jobs. Another area of need is funding for our mental health awareness programs.
Tell me your big dream?
My big dream is to set up an organization that will not only offer psychosocial support to the mentally ill, but also be a source of employment to the group members