The government will construct new modern facilities in an effort to address the inequalities among Kenyans seeking treatment because of mental health problems.

As the country joins the rest of the world to celebrate world mental day, Dr Catherine Syengo Mutisya who is a senior Psychiatrist at the ministry of Health has said that the government is in process of making key implementations aimed at easing the mental health burden that has largely been exposed by the coronavirus.

“The government is building a new mental health hospital which will also serve as a modern psychiatric facility and research Center. Anytime soon a mental health call Center funded by the World Bank will be opened at the Mathari Mental Hospital,” she said.

Dr Catherine said the government is working towards ensuring that all facilities have accessible mental health services, which will include retraining of nurses and clinical officers on how to diagnose mental symptoms.

“Going forward we want the National and County governments to have key focal persons spearheading mental health promotion programs and prevention. Counties will also make use of telemedicine to enable the government to reach all mental health patients,” she added.

She has added that 1 in every 4 people suffer a mental condition in their lifetime while 20% of adolescents and youth in Kenya suffer from a mental illness, which is caused by being depressed.

Dr Catherine has noted that the allocation of resources to mental health is low as compared to physical health, but the various implementations by the government will aim at bridging the inequality gap towards a mentally healthy nation.

“Mental health affects the general well-being of an individual. For instance, a mother who is depressed will not remember to take their children for immunization or attend antenatal services and this will, in turn, affect the health of the child,” she added.

The most common symptoms of a mental health illness include general behaviour change in a person who normally appears sad, preferring to sit alone from others, which affects their performance at work and in life.

The National Taskforce on mental health has so far declared mental illness a national emergency and has made various recommendations, including allocation of resources to mental health care and refurbishment of Mathari mental hospital, among others.

World Mental Health Day is celebrated on October 10th each year to create awareness about mental disorders and wellbeing, as well as prevention. 

This year’s theme is “Mental health in an unequal world”