Beatrice Maingi was a high schoolteacher for 12 years before being deployed as a discipline officer by the Teachers Service Commission (TSC) in 2006 after completing her Masters in Counselling Psychology.
"I was assigned the job of handling employees who had breached the Code of Regulations, and my work was to recommend penalties according to the regulations breached," says Beatrice.
As a psychologist, she felt that not all the issues presented to her required a disciplinary approach.
"I felt that there was need to understand the individuals, some of whom were grappling with deeper personal issues and needed to be heard by an understanding and non-judgmental ear.
She felt that someone needed to engage the reverse gear and try to understand the underlying psychosocial issues besetting the employees.
After two years, moved by the desire to understand the underlying problems, she requested to be moved to the Wellness Section of the TSC. That was when she discovered that many employees had issues of excessive consumption of alcohol driven by psychosocial issues.
“Alcohol compromises one's sense of judgment and may lead to loss of self-worth. I figured that for us to sort out the issues of unrest, drugs and violence in schools, we needed to help the teachers as a priority," she says.
"It is important to note that children learn by observation and are likely to replicate the behaviour that they observe when they grow up," says Beatrice.
“Joining the Wellness Section was a total relief for me. We started sensitising employees on the causes and effects of excessive alcohol consumption in addition to disseminating the Alcohol and Drug Abuse Policy in order to help manage the issue.
In addition, the Wellness Section conducted one-on-one counselling for all employees, which gave way to the need to conduct a survey to establish the magnitude of excessive alcohol use.
We conducted a prevalence survey in 2010 in the districts that had the highest number of disciplinary cases," explains Beatrice.
The research established that indeed, there was a high prevalence of excessive alcohol use. So, what was the solution for this? "There was need to develop a policy to guide the management of alcohol use among employees; thus the Alcohol and Drug Abuse Policy (ADA) for teachers came into being," says Beatrice who was in the team that developed the policy.
She says the ADA policy was a win for TSC employees as it recognised alcohol dependency as a disease. "Teachers and other employees could now freely come forward to seek help.
ADA policy recommended that any employee who wanted to go for rehabilitation would be granted three months sick leave with pay.
The policy offered three options: Stop excessive use of alcohol on your own, attend a specific number of counselling sessions or go for three-months rehabilitation.
It was around this period that Beatrice began writing her PhD thesis on (Influence of Psycho-Social Wellbeing on Alcohol Abuse Among Teachers.)
With her first-hand experience, she wanted to conduct thorough research and offer global world class expertise and solutions on the matter.
PASSIONATE ABOUT MENTAL HEALTH
Beatrice, a wife and mother to four girls, is passionate about mental health and especially helping people to attain self-mastery, where she teaches them to understand their strengths and weaknesses and create a life balance.
"When one lacks balance in their day to day activities, life becomes a struggle regardless of how much money one is making. As a result, often times people resort to substance abuse in an attempt to medicate the inner struggle," explains Beatrice.
While counselling the employees, Beatrice was able to understand some of the underlying problems. They are self-mastery, personal growth, self-esteem and social support issues like instability in marriage and family.
In most cases an employer might not be in a position to handle them, yet they affect service delivery.
"I felt that I needed to carry out research on the issues of psychological and social well-being so as to make a contribution in the area of mental health in Kenya. I have come a long way.
First as a teacher, then working in teacher management both for 12 years. With that background in addition to my research, I am able to offer lasting solutions to people with substance use disorders since we resolve the underlying issues to enable them regain their noble position in the society.
Beatrice left TSC in November 2018 to start Nobility House (www.nobilityhouse.com), a treatment and rehabilitation centre.
Her main agenda is to help people who have Substance Use Disorders recapture their self-respect, self-worth and recover in a serene and dignified environment.
"Before leaving TSC, I had a short stint in the Staffing Department but felt disconnected from my passion.
Nobility House helped me to pick up from where I had left off. I have ample time to pour myself out and give of my time and talents to the centre."
She emphasises the need to discover one's purpose and to pursue it. "It is important to find out what makes you tick and consult widely on how to execute it because the day you discover your purpose is the day you start living’.
Add value to what you know so that you do it in a professional way," advises Beatrice who will be graduating with her Doctorate in Counselling Psychology.
"I constantly attend seminars and I am currently undergoing accreditation training by Nacada. Always keep abreast with the current global trends in your area of passion," she says.