Depression, anxiety leading cases of mental disorders in Kenya

Written By: Hunja Macharia

One in every 10 people in Kenya suffers from a common mental disorder, with depression and anxiety the leading cases of mental disorders.

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It is in view of this that a Task force on mental health reforms has recommended the setting up of a Mental Health Commission to deal with the burden of the illness.

Health CS Mutahi Kagwe after receiving the task force report Tuesday evening said the taskforce also wants mental illness declared a national health emergency.

According to the CS, Kenya has a 1600 bed capacity for mental health care 400 of which are in private hospitals.

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The Taskforce chaired by Dr Frank Njenga says the formation of a responsible commission to monitor the mental health of Kenyans should be a priority.

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Dr Njenga said, many people are committing suicide others are dying through road accidents due to drug and substance abuse caused by depression.

The taskforce also wants the Government to put in place strategies for dealing with stigma associated with mental illness saying the sick are suffering in silence due to fear of stigma.

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Dr Njenga also wants the Government to allocate finance to mental illness care to give it some dignity saying a large number of those suffering from the illness are generally living in abject poverty.

The CS said the Country has witnessed rising cases of gender violence during the COVID 19 pandemic period adding that a huge number of Kenyans continue to check into hospitals with mental illness cases.

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The Taskforce formed last year following a directive from President Uhuru Kenyatta to study the state of mental health status in the Country.

Its report indicates that alcohol abuse among people aged between 18 and 29 is a serious concern.

According to WHO, Kenya is ranked 29th on mortality rate due to suicide worldwide an estimate of 5.6 per 100, 000 persons.




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