MHSTARS ASSN INC NOVEMBER 4TH AND 5TH 3RD ANNUAL CONFERENCE.

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Poleni sana. As we gather this weekend, our thoughts and prayers turn to families that have lost loved ones in death.  Losing a loved one no matter the manner, is the most difficult experience in life, yet we believe that by faith, families are resilient and will be able to overcome tragedy. It is truly by God’s grace, that we keep hope alive. May our loved family rest in eternal peace.

Mental Health STARS Association, Incorporated-3rd Annual Virtual Zoom Conference is on Friday November 4 at 7 PM EST, and Saturday November 5, at 3 PM EST and the last session is at 7 PM EST. MH STARS as is commonly known, is Powered by KEMEN. STARS is our acronym for START TALKING AND REMOVE STIGMA. We have been in partnership WITH KEMEN since day one

Invitation to our conference: Please join us for this conference and meet our esteemed guests. We have planned plenary sessions with a difference. Imagine, you can ask a speaker question concerning what they will speak about. On Saturday Afternoon, we have 4 Concurrent Workshops: (1) Grief and Loss, (2) Mental Health of Children Birth to 12 Years. (3) Mental Health of Teenagers, and (4) Mental Health of Adults and Seniors. We have added an open mic session with youth, which will be led by a Licensed Professional Counselor. On Saturday evening, we will have a grand finale as the Board Members jointly  Launch MHSTARS Association, Incorporated. (Photo here).

Mental Health STARS Association, Incorporated is made up of men and women who advocate for mental health wellness in Diaspora and in other nations. Some are mental health providers, but we are open to members among our community who are interested in raising awareness in Mental health, being resourceful, utilizing prevention and intervention approaches for the community.

Brief History: It all started in Sam Rack WhatsApp forum. Some individuals do not take social media seriously, but we all know the role of social media in our lives as global citizens. It was just a simple post by Mr. Antony Kamnao, asking what the community is going to do concerning the suicide deaths of young men in Diaspora.  Most of you know that if any person talks about young people, I am all ears.  Since we had ministered together with Kamnao in Talanta Awards, it was easy to talk about issues that affect youth and their families. Also, I am a Facilitator of Family Enrichment Education Forum, a Program of Triumph Christian Ministries.

Powered by KEMEN: Kamnao is the founder of KEMEN (Kenyan Men Empowerment Network and Impact). Since October 2018, as a result of various communications, other individuals were reached. And immediately a group of concerned community members started Teleconferenced discussions on Say No To Depression, Suicide Prevention and Mental Health Issues. Therefore, this discussion was a response to the 2018 crisis in Diaspora, USA, whereby in less than 2 months, we had suicide deaths of 5 young people (Ages 21-29 years old). We decided that we could no longer bury our heads in the sand. We could not keep quiet.

What Next? First, we gave the MH issues a face by identifying that mental illness is real. From there we have proceeded to talk about mental health issues to remove stigma. Also, we have discussed various other issues including Alcohol and Drug Addiction, prevention of Suicide as a dream killer and a thief. Domestic Violence Awareness, Saying No to Depression from, types, risks, symptoms, intervention and prevention, immigration options for domestic violence, COVID-19 Vaccines…and we have had a session where we tell successful experiences and interventions. Since October 2018 we meet monthly for a business meeting. We pray and agree on a topic of discussion, except one month when an account was hacked. We hold monthly discussion until in 2022, we agreed to have Mental Health STARS Association, Incorporated, registered with the Secretary of The State of Georgia. Essentially, GA is the birth home of MHSTARS Association Incorporated. We also held our lst Conference at City Hall, Kennesaw, GA. courtesy of Pastor Dennis and Sarah Mutuma. Our 2nd Conference was Virtual as we observed COVID-19 Pandemic Guidelines. WE look forward to meeting in-person in the future, as we continue to advocate for mental illness. Also, we do  confront the issues that are affecting the USA Diaspora community, as well as being aware of current issues in our birth country, Kenya. Yet, we are open to all people.

Advocacy Group: MHSTARS Association, Inc (MHSTARS) is an advocacy group that is raising awareness of mental illness in Diaspora and communities at large.  We consider ourselves resourceful-we live in the U.S, which is the most resourceful nation in the world. How then could we sit and watch individuals and families suffer, and keep quiet?  We are here for such a time like this so that one more person doesn’t have to die of what is preventable. There is a solution-We wish to return a vote of thanks to the first members of MH STARS.

The Co-founders are Mr. Anthony Kamnao-MO and Rev. Mrs. Wambui Njoroge-GA, we invited our specialized men and women in the areas of mental and medical health – Mr. Kevin Ngugi-GA, Dr. Penny Njoroge-GA, Mrs. Lucy Simiyu-TX, Dr. Bishop Pinney Muthee-MA, and Dr. Nancy Wambaa-CA. We have a few individuals that were in the first MHSTARS conference and were part of the planning team-Dr. Pauline Waweru-GA, Esther Brown-GA, Zipporah Wambui-MA, and Alice Munyua-NC. Every one mentioned has volunteered to  share freely their knowledge, expertise, talents, abilities, and time to discuss issues of MH. Mostly, they have shared their love for community coupled with a desire to see ONE more lfe saved by Saying No To Depression. When they are together, MHSTARS end their discussion with “We are here for you.” Or “I am here for you.”  We appreciate Mr. Isaac Gitau for carrying our stories in this electronic papers, as well in various settings. We thank all our families, and mine-Dr. Joe and daughter Anne who helps with producing our videos. Then all those who have graced our platform as guests and presenters. We could not have made it this far without your help. We are truly grateful. We hope you will continue reading the articles. It is not just a slogan, knowledge is power. No one knows everything and as I like to say, we seek to learn and understand. We believe that Together we gonna make it!

Social Media/Technology: There are Safety Teams for Suicide Prevention on Social Media Sites-Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Tumbler (For more information, visit the web site for Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration) There are many more apps that can be helpful, especially in some Colleges and Universities. MH STARS are looking forward to developing a text message created like the Commercial Mobile Alert System for Emergency situations for families in Diaspora. The alert would have helpful information for young people and adults who are experiencing difficulties. This is important as it is easier to trust Diaspora community with personal or family issues like these. One does not need to be on guard as we are walking in each other’s Nyayos in our new village of the U.S.A. Talking about mental health issues will take more time to get further, for example creating a safety plan, assessment, etc., We may be digital immigrants trying to help our children who are digital natives, but I know we are well able and can do more to support each other. We have these smarts phones and can access information using technology in our hands. Let us use everything in our power to combat this monster. No one needs to terminate their own life when help is available. Let us keep talking about it and encourage one another. There is help and there is hope-when you receive this information, please share with others. If you or someone you know is struggling with mental illness or is suicidal/Call 988-Lifeline.org or Text Hello to 988.

More Resources for today: There is hope and healing for families. If you or someone you know has lost a child through suicide or other circumstances, volunteer to give hope to the affected. Affirm and support families with Romans 8:1, “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus…”  Access counseling resources or a support group near you/www.griefshare.org. For parents who have lost a child of any age/www.compassionatefriends.org. There is a resource for teachers, parents, counselors, and other adults/allkidsgrieve.org. kidsaid.com is a safe place for children to share and help each other through the grieving process. All people can talk to their Pastor, or Priest, Imam or community leader. I have found out that in the most difficult times of life, having faith in God, Prayer, Praise, Worship, Reading the Bible and going to Church is helpful. Staying connected to the Diaspora community has already been underlined in this article, and a recent article finding Hope for Healing and available resources available by knowing your Zip Code. (For more online resources, visit NAMI website)________________________________________________________________________________

Rev. Mrs. Wambui Njoroge/is a freelance writer with Kenyanparentsinusa web. She works with TCMI Ministries, Inc- Facilitates Workshop on various issues for family with TCMI-Program: Family Enrichment Education Forums, USA/revwambuifavored@gmail.com

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