18.2.4  Coping with life’s problems

Sometimes we face difficulties in life and these can disturb us. We can describe these difficulties as stressful events. Even good things can be considered a stressful event. For example, getting married is a good and positive thing, but preparing for this celebration can put people under a lot of pressure so that it can be a stressful event.

  • Make a list of all the stressful life events that you can think of.

  • Having a baby can be stressful for the mother
    Figure 18.2  Having a baby can be stressful for the mother. (Photo: Basiro Davey)

    See Box 18.1 for examples of stressful life events.

    Box 18.1  Stressful events

    Negative stressful events:

    • Somebody close to you dies
    • You or somebody you love is very ill or injured
    • You lose your job
    • You get into conflict with neighbours
    • Somebody steals your possessions
    • You get into trouble with the police
    • The crops fail
    • You are separated from your family.

    Positive stressful events:

    • Getting married
    • Having a baby (Figure 18.2).

We all deal with stressful events in different ways.

  • From your own experience, can you think of some good and bad ways that people might use to cope if somebody they love (e.g. their brother or sister) dies?

  • Table 18.1 lists some common ways of dealing with problems (coping strategies). They have been divided into ‘helpful’ and ‘unhelpful’ coping strategies. People who use helpful coping strategies are less likely to develop mental illness if they experience a stressful event. Unhelpful coping strategies make the person more likely to develop mental illness.

Table 18.1  Coping strategies
Helpful coping strategiesUnhelpful coping strategies

Spend time with family and friends

Talk about your problems

Speak to someone with a similar problem

Some people find it helpful to pray


Find a way to solve your problem

Drink alcohol heavily

Chew khat

Stay in bed all day

Keep your problems to yourself

Avoid dealing with your problems

Get into fights

18.2.3  Reducing alcohol and khat use

18.3  Secondary prevention: screening and early treatment