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Your mental health and SRH and rights are lock and key 

We are in an era of wonkiness and awareness about Mental health where everybody is talking about it. We hear it on many shows and podcasts. We read it everywhere, it is all over social media. Your favorite influencers talk about it but sexual reproductive health is often forgotten while it directly links to mental health. 

Sexual reproductive health is considered as a taboo in our community of conservatives. It is probably why there is so little trusted information about it among the youth. 

According to a study by Health Survey (DHS) 2019–2020, young people in Rwanda comprise the majority of the population, yet are still facing challenges in accessing Sexual Reproductive health (SRH) information and services, especially contraception. 

This is due in part to the belief that young people should not engage in sexual activities and thus should not need access to SRH information and services without parental consent. 

But according to a young doctor and sexual reproductive health activist, Christelle Giraneza; young people already do engage in sexual activities and the most important thing should be talking about it, thus prevent them from engaging in risky behaviors. 

“When you do not talk about it, it does not mean that young people are not engaged in it. It is nice to have the information and teach young people on how to be safe and how to avoid risky sexual behaviors as well as how to engage with each other in a community of different genders,” Giraneza advises.

She says that it becomes harder to find evidence based information because SRH is somehow considered a taboo. 

“In our community, it seems to be a taboo to talk about SRH. That is why they find it difficult to find evidence based information,” Giraneza said.  

“I think it is very important to have the discussion around it because basically if you have not gotten the chance to be counseled about SRH and receive evidence based information,” she continued.  

The young activist said that without proper discussions and information around SRH, young people could be facing bad outcomes and find themselves in unwanted situations. 

“There can be very bad outcomes like getting pregnant while you are young and not ready and that can sabotage your future and your education and also your prospective career,” Giraneza explained.   

She continued to elaborate on how SRH directly impacts mental health highlighting that the two are linked and should always be considered.   

“If you have a good sexual reproductive health, you will have a good mental health because you won’t be meeting the adverse outcomes of not having evidence based information on SRH and you will fall into the different traps that come with not knowing,” Giraneza stated.  

“When you are raising awareness on sexual reproductive health, you are also raising awareness for mental health it all goes to the wellbeing of a person as a whole,” she added.  

Giraneza said SRH is something that is much more important than people think. “SRH is really important because it makes us who we are.”

Giraneza said that mental health directly feels the effect when SRH is affected noting that a person cannot function without proper mental health. 

“Without good mental health, you cannot really function and can’t excel,” she said.  “I take mental health very seriously. I actually believe everything builds on mental health. If you do not have good mental health, you can even go into risky sexual behaviors,” she added.

Giraneza emphasized that every young person should learn how to take care of their SRH in order to be preventative and not curative. 

“Knowing where to get the evidence based information, we are living in this digital world where there is a lot of information that is on social media. So, one has to take care of SRH and their mental health by knowing where to get the evidence based information and knowing how to make rightful decisions,” she said.   

The young activist believes that SRH and mental health can affect your entire life. “You have to think twice before engaging in risky sexual behaviors and you have to know when to seek help, a knock to a helping door does not kill,” Giraneza to the youth.

“I think we should end stigma around it and talk about it, it does not mean you will engage in risky behaviors, information is the key to successful life we should end stigma around it and talk about it,” she added. 

Giraneza advocates that young people should have access to SRHR evidence based information

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