In a period of just one month, my wife Katindi Sivi Njonjo and I have lost two dear friends to depression, and the world woke up today to news that depression had also claimed one of its most beloved entertainers, Robin Williams.
The grief of those most directly affected by these tragic deaths is unimaginable. But what is truly tragic is the utter neglect of mental health by both policy makers and society at large; the assumption that those who suffer from mental illness are somehow to blame for their misfortune for being weak or failing to just 'snap out of it', as if being mentally ill was something they accept by choice .
And yet it is the case that you don't have to be mentally ill to suffer from mental illness because all of us have a family member or a close friend or know someone who suffers depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, or some other form mental illness. And with all the pressures of modern living, mental illness is reaching crisis proportions.
And so as we mourn the passing of Robin Williams, let us take a moment and consider what we can do, individually and collectively, to be the agents of healing for those suffering in our midst by fighting stigma, advocating for the necessary resources by government, and by being there for those who, due to no fault of their own, find themselves alone and trapped in the prison of their own minds.