Deaflympics: Team Kenya undergoes mental awareness education

Coach Benjamin Omukuba (third left) parting instructions to footballers during Team Kenya Deaflympics media relations and mental health awareness conference for the Kenya deaflympics and the media at The Moi International Sports Centre, Kasarani. Thursday April 7, 2022. [Jonah Onyango, Standard]

Team Kenya for the forthcoming 24th Summer Deaflympics in Caxias Do Sul in Brazil has been taken through mental awareness education to help them prepare well for the global showpiece.

The players have been advised to seek help in case they feel an unusual mental drain or are suspecting a mental disorder.

"When you find that you are so stressed, please talk to somebody within the team or outside. The more you remain silent over a mental problem, the more the stress will affect your health," Doctor Rose Ngondi, a Clinical Psychologist at Chiromo Hospital Group, told the athletes who are camping at Moi International Sports Centre, Kasarani in Nairobi.

"Choosing to remain silent over a suspected mental problem is likely to develop into a mental illness," Ngondi stated.

The mental health awareness session was organized by the Ministry of Sports, in partnership with Chiromo Hospital Group.

Sports, Culture and Heritage Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed had earlier reiterated Ngondi's sentiments noting that there's widespread mental illness within the sports fraternity.

The athletes were taken through various forms of mental health disorders, which included; depression and anxiety.

They were shown tips on how to overcome very stressful situations.

“Engage in activities that make you feel good, for example dancing and listening to music.

"You can also read a book and interact with friends,” Ngondi said.

Another doctor, Victoria Rika, counselled the athletes to take care of their mental health by using the 4 'A’s coping mechanism that includes; avoiding unnecessary stress, adapting to the stress, accepting that things can change and altering the situation.

The athletes pointed out stigma, lack of awareness and breach of privacy and confidentiality as some of the factors that prevent them from seeking help.

The mental health awareness workshop was the climax of a two-day conference during which the Deaflympics teams also benefitted from media relations training.

Sylvia Kamau, the Chief Executive Officer Local Organizing Committee for the 24th Summer Deaflympics 2021, who closed the conference acknowledged “mental health is tied to wellness of the mind, body and soul” and thanked Chiromo Hospital Group for working closely with the Ministry of Sports, Culture and Heritage to sensitize athletes on it  as they prepare for the competition in Brazil.

At the 24th Deaflympiad scheduled for May 1 to 15 in Brazil, Kenya will field athletes in five disciplines namely; athletics (men and women), football (women), basketball (men and women), handball (men and women) and golf (men).

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