Aliyah K. Aliyan
Conference 2022 Hot-Doc Presentation
The effect of eclectic group counseling on depression, anxiety, stress and substance use among street women in Kenya
Authors and Affiliations
Aliyah .K. Aliyan1
1. BSI Moi University, Moi University school of Medicine.
The coming of the Covid-19 pandemic had caught Kenyans off guard, especially those living from hand to mouth. The lockdowns, curfews and restrictions had rendered many jobless and financially inept. These drastic changes had brought to light the increased importance of mental health as stress levels multiplied and the prevalence of suicides had increased let alone depression and anxiety. Moreover, the mental health services in the country are not enough to cater for the demand of the population and it is an expense not many individuals would invest in.
Therefore, the BSI Moi chapter, in collaboration with Medical Psychology students at Moi University, designed a project that enabled them to reach out to women who have lived in the streets. The main aim was to impart mental health knowledge, boost self awareness, relieve common symptoms of mental illness and increase positive coping strategies. The target population was selected based on availability and ease of communication. The women formed a group in which they discussed the common issues they experienced and how they would approach them using psychological concepts.
The study used psychological assessment tools both at the beginning and at the end of the study. The assessment tools used include, The PHQ-9, GAD-7, CAGE and PTSD checklist.
The main therapeutic approach used was Group therapy. This enabled us to create a community/ an open space where the women could discuss their issues and come up with solutions proactively while incorporating psychological and therapeutic concepts and knowledge. The approach was eclectic since the aim was to psycho-educate the participants on general mental health issues and increase their wellness as well as have them actively participate in solving their problems.
There were a total of 12 sessions. Each session was structured into sub-sections that enabled a flow of concepts and ideas. The group members were given charge gradually and by the end of the treatment, there was a significant improvement in both their participation and understanding.
The participants remained consistent and reported positive feedback on the therapy sessions. A major change was seen in the reduction of Anxiety levels (GAD-7 tool), followed by general reduction of depressive symptoms (PHQ-9 tool). There was a slight noticeable change in the PTSD checklist for intrusive, negative mood and affect symptoms as well. In contrast, the results using the CAGE test remained constant. Only few participants had ongoing substance use, as majority of the participants had either remitted or abstained from substance use.
There has been an immense improvement in the participant’s attitudes towards mental health and general problem-solving techniques. The participants were empowered and encouraged to appreciate themselves and build themselves from where they were. There was a positive correlation between attendance and performance with a positive reduction of symptoms as seen with the end results from the tools administered. For example, those who attended and participated actively in the sessions, reported highest reduction in anxiety levels as well as positive change in constructive behavior in their daily lives. The final phase of our study is to identify potential candidates from the participants, who we can train to become peer chancellors to fellow women. There is a need for similar and better interventions targeting grassroot populations so that they can be empowered and can also assist one another in their daily lives.