Just over a month ago, a young girl living in Kenya died by suicide. The reason? She was period shamed in front of her peers by her teacher for bleeding through her uniform. This was the first time the child got her period, so she had not planned to have menstrual supplies at hand. The teacher went to the extent of calling her “dirty” even though it was not her fault and most definitely not a crime. The school was supposed to have access to pads as mandated by the Kenya Basic Education Act, but alas, some schools were skipped over including this one.
While efforts are being undertaken to eliminate period stigma and to facilitate better conversations around menstrual health and hygiene, it is cases like this that highlight the urgency of having a higher reach of education, information and access to menstrual products. This story struck a chord with GiveHer5, simply because no human should ever feel like they are not worthy of living due to something that is just part and parcel of growing up. More importantly, the link between shaming and poor mental health is only too visible to ignore.
The act of period shaming someone very much falls under the category of bullying and belittling, both of which can lead to poor mental health. Unfortunately, when there is no support for a person with poor mental health, in some cases it can lead to them taking extreme measures like taking their own life because the pain is too much to handle and the shame outweighs any positive feelings they might have had.
Today is October 10th, observed around the world as World Mental Health Day. For the year 2019, the day is supported by WHO, the International Association for Suicide Prevention and United for Global Health. The theme that is being highlighted is suicide prevention. Statistics show that every 40 seconds, someone loses their life to suicide. This makes us wonder how many of these lives are lost due to bullying and shaming, especially when it comes to menstruation?
This #WorldMentalHealthDay, as we commit to staying period positive and to do our bit to put an end to period stigma, let’s browse through some of our relevant articles on Mental Health:
PMS and its Impact on Women’s Mental Health – https://www.giveher5.org/blog/2019/06/17/pms-and-its-impact-on-womens-mental-health/
This is How Your Period Affects Your Mental Health – https://www.giveher5.org/blog/2018/12/17/this-is-how-your-period-affects-your-mental-health/
How Being a Multi-Faceted Woman Can Compromise Your Mental Health – https://www.giveher5.org/blog/2019/03/11/how-being-a-multi-faceted-woman-can-compromise-your-mental-health/