“I have fear of what will happen after the voting, me and my mother almost died during the post election violence. They stopped our bus and asked which tribe we were and mom had to show her identification card. Were it not for our tribe, me and my mom would not be alive” said one participant
If your candidate/s doesn’t win, what will happen to you? Do you think it will affect you mentally? How prepared are we mentally for the coming 2022 general elections? What can we do to make sure no matter the outcome of the elections, our mental state will still be stable? These are some of the questions that were discussed during the Coffee Bar Tuesday.
15 out 20 believe that the current state of politics has caused a lot of tension during this 2022 general election and some of the political class are likely not to concede defeat. With previous experience during elections, many are not sure of whether they will be violence after the elections. Regardless of whether you will note or not, the 2022 general elections are likely to trigger anxiety, stress, and other negative mental health symptoms.
Currently, the majority of Kenyans are experiencing election stress disorder. There is a feeling that this election will divide communities and trigger anger and frustration than any other election in recent memory. Some of the signs and symptoms of election stress disorder include insomnia, concern, fear, frustration, anxiety, depression, pain, obsession with the news/updates, anger issues, withdrawal and social isolation during elections. However, this reacts differently to everyone.
Post-election stress has become a larger issue than ever before driven by previous post violence experiences. There’s a lot of tension, many feel that the 2022 general elections will not be free and fair. Some of the participants also pointed out that as soon as they were done with voting, the results will be announced while they are on their way to upcountry. This represents so many Kenyans especially those living in the capital city and other towns.
Many are those who won’t vote because they feel their vote won’t count, others won’t vote because they feel the direct tickets have snatched them their preferred candidate. This has a major effect on their mental health by making them feel like there will be no change for the next 5 years.
“I have fear of what will happen after the voting, me and my mother almost died during the post election violence. They stopped our bus and asked which tribe we were and mom had to give her identification card. Were it not for our tribe, me and my mom would not be alive” said one participant
There was a feeling that religious leaders are no longer playing their role well. Compared to previous elections, they were at the forefront of preaching peace but lately they have aligned themselves with the politicians. This is also causing distress among many congregations.
“Nowadays religious leaders wameji allign na political class hadi instead of preaching peac eduring and after elections, wako busy kutushow who we should vote for” Participant said
With election stress disorder, how can we be able to control it or make sure that we are safe mentally? Some of the ways raised during the coffee bar session include;
- Limit news and your social media activity
- Choose who to talk to and what to talk about
- Be secure and safe
- Get out of the polling station after voting
- Accept the results and move on
During party primaries, there were few cases of young people being paid to disrupt the party primaries. There are worries that these will be the same people who will be used to disrupt or cause violence during or after elections. The message is clear, no matter the state of the economy, no matter how broke you are, don’t be the reason why people will fight. Peace starts with you and your mental health should be a priority. See you on Tuesday!