TechHer Spotlight

Sitawa Wafula: Bipolar turned mental health crusader

Sitawa Wafula is a nomadic mental health crusader on a mission to renew minds. She is from Kenya in East-Africa. She is the founding executive director of My Mind, My Funk, a mental health hub that ran Kenya’s first free mental health support line. She was a student of Actuarial science at University of Nairobi, Kenya before she dropped out in 2005 due to seizures. These are some of her achievements:

  • She has a certificate in Mental Health Advocacy from BasicNeeds UK in Kenya.
  • In 2016, she bagged a Postgraduate certificate from Amani Institute.
  • She is an active blogger and a weekly online radio contributor for EAT online and South Africa’s Radio Junto.
  • She uses her journey as a rape survivor living with epilepsy and bipolar disorder to provide information and support to deal with life and manage mental health conditions.
  • She was named a non-communicable disease champion by Kenya’s Ministry of Health.
  • She is also a winner of Google Africa Connected 2014.
  • In July 2013, she was the winner of the East Africa Philanthropy Awards.
  • In December 2013, she was awarded Activist of the Year by Malaika Trust.
  • Sitawa was recognized by Business Daily and named among the Top 40 Women Under 40 in Kenya.
  • She is also an Aspen Institute New Voices fellow.

Her Work:
In 2010, she started a blog called sitawa.blogspot.co.ke to document her recovery journey and experience as a rape survivor living with a dual diagnosis of epilepsy and bipolar.

In March she launched an online project called “Purple Day Online Campaign”. This is an online campaign to have people in Kenya wear something purple, take a picture and spiral conversation about epilepsy. The huge success recorded led the organizers of International Purple Day to adopt the project.

She was a blog contributor on mental health articles for Africa Health Magazine from October 2012- September 2013. She also founded My Mind, My Funk (MMMF) in September 2013, a mental health social enterprise that provides information and support to people living with mental health conditions and their families. MMMF ran Kenya’s first FREE mental health text line 22214 from Sept 2014 – Sept 2015.

In February 2015, she joined an online radio station called Radio junto where she started a weekly programme that discusses the role of technology in various spheres of African living.

Sitawa runs a community mental health program where participants share their stories through digital storytelling and writing therapy.

She has publications on AllAfrica.com, Mail & Guardian and NPR:Africa on:

As Internet Access Expands in Africa, so does Cyber Harassment.
Psychological scars have yet to heal for victims of Kenya’s election violence.
When I Was Diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder, People Thought I Was Cursed.

Why TechHer Loves Her:

She turned her experience as a rape survivor with a dual diagnosis of epilepsy and bipolar into a mental health information and support hub. She accomplished this by leveraging on digital platforms to provide information and support for Kenyans.

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