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News > Kenya

Kenya Pledges Investments To Boost Action on Mental Health

  • Kenya YMCA planned a mental health program under which they held a session for the youth at Kangemi in Nairobi on May 11, 2021.

    Kenya YMCA planned a mental health program under which they held a session for the youth at Kangemi in Nairobi on May 11, 2021. | Photo: Twitter/@Africa_YMCA

Published 17 May 2021 (14 hours 19 minutes ago)
Opinion

According to Aman, in Kenya, one out of four people who turn up at a health care facility has a mental disorder like anxiety, schizophrenia, and depression. Yet, they are mostly unaware of their condition.

Kenya will increase budgetary allocation toward prevention and clinical management of mental illnesses that have spiked amid substance abuse and lifestyle changes, officials said Monday.

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Rashid Aman, chief administrative secretary at the Ministry of Health, said that a policy and legislative framework is already in place to facilitate investments in mental health care.

"The government and other stakeholders have adopted a strategy to promote financing and investments required to scale up access to quality and affordable mental health care services countrywide," said Aman.

He spoke in Nairobi during a virtual multisectoral forum on Kenya's mental health investment attended by senior policymakers, development partners, experts, and advocates.

Aman said that Kenya is committed to plugging the funding gap that has derailed access to quality treatment for citizens suffering from mental illnesses, including depression and bipolar disorder.

He said that stress linked to modern lifestyles, alcohol and drug abuse, domestic violence, and abject poverty had worsened the burden of mental diseases in the country.

According to Aman, in Kenya, one out of four people who turn up at a health care facility has a mental disorder like anxiety, schizophrenia, and depression. Yet, they are mostly unaware of their condition.

He said that a presidential task force had revitalized efforts to scale up funding, public awareness, and novel clinical interventions to reduce the burden of mental illnesses in Kenya.

Simon Njuguna Kahonge, director of the Division of Mental Health at the Ministry of Health, said the country had adopted international best practices to boost response to mental disorders linked to genetics, social and environmental factors.

Kahonge said the government is leveraging data, research, telemedicine, robust financing, and policy reforms to promote access to quality and affordable mental health care services.

He said that other interventions the government has prioritized include grassroots advocacy to reduce stigma and discrimination affecting the mentally ill.

Legislative and policy reforms are in the works to address barriers in accessing mental health care services among vulnerable groups, including youth, women, children, and drug addicts, Kahonge said.

Sylvia Kasanga, a nominated senator who is also sponsoring a bill to amend the Mental Health Act, said Kenya is focusing on legal interventions to boost investments in mental health care services in line with the universal health coverage agenda.

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