“The mental health crisis in Kenya is the real pandemic. Covid-19 has shone a light on just how fragile our minds can be if we don’t look after them”.  Shalini Bhalla-Lucas,  mental health commentator and founder of the Award-winning wellness company, Just Jhoom! tells KenyaBuzz. According to the World Health Organization’s 2017 report on the world mental health situation, Kenya ranked fifth among African countries with the highest number of depression cases.  In Kenya, it is estimated that 1 in every 10 people suffer from a common mental disorder. The number increases to one in every four people among patients attending routine outpatient services. In a quest to bring awareness to the state of mental health in the country, Just Jhoom is bringing The Manic Monologues to Kenya. This is a play developed and premiered by Zachary Burton and Elisa Hofmeister at Stanford University and premiered in 2019.  It consists of autobiographical accounts of mental illness from people diagnosed with mental health disorders, the family and friends of mental health patients, and health professionals. It has been shown in Los Angeles, Iowa, Florida, and at Stanford University, and has been featured by The Washington Post, NPR, iHeart Radio, Psychology Today, and Broadway World. The production is now being toured around the world and this will be its inaugural performance in Africa with the script being adapted for a Kenyan audience and new monologues written by Kenyan writers. Bhalla tells KenyaBuzz that she got the inspiration to bring the Manic Monologues to the country after watching a Kenyan play back in November 2021. “I had been away from the country for 20 odd years and hadn’t watched a Kenyan play in a long time. After watching Breathe III by Mbeki Mwalimu,  I thought it was amazing how much Kenya theater had evolved over the years and I got this idea of putting together a mental health play”. After intensive research, Bhalla came across The Manic monologues and then contacted Zachary Burton who graciously licensed the play to Just Jhoom. Mugambi Nthiga, a long time friend of Bhalla who is an actor, filmmaker & writer (Supa Modo) came on board to direct and help with casting. “All the actors cast in this play have impressive professional backgrounds and understand the importance of this play” Bhalla says. During the table reading for Manic Monologues Olive N. Ndiang'ui, a  Counseling Psychologist was present and Just Jhoom has been providing free counseling for the actors during rehearsal.  “There will be free counseling for audiences at the Kenyan premier of Manic Monologues”. Bhalla says. Through this production of The Manic Monologues, Shalini aims to:
  • Showcase true-stories of mental health challenges;
  • Ignite conversations and raise awareness about various mental health conditions;
  • Disrupt stigma around the topic of mental health within the Kenyan community;
  • Call to action corporates, policy makers, and advocates to prioritize mental health within
workspaces, government policy and day-to-day life. “I am passionate about mental health having been hospitalised with clinical depression and been suicidal myself. I know how important it is to talk about mental health, to be seen and to be heard when you really feel you can’t go on. I hope The Manic Monologues will really push the conversation forward,” says Shalini. The Manic Monologues will be showing from  Wednesday 5 October – Saturday 8 October 2022 to coincide with World Mental Health Day on 10 October 2022 at Signature Auditorium. Buy tickets from KenyaBuzz HERE.

About The Author

Maureen Kasuku

Maureen is our resident cat lady and Beyoncé stan. She writes about spas, brunch and ballet recitals but has never been to any. Moonlights as a social justice activist in her spare time. She knows things and is obnoxiously opinionated on the internet but not in real life

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