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KNCHR: Protect every person’s mental health as universal human right

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The Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR) has called upon citizens to continue raising awareness, driving actions and implementing interventions that prioritize, promote and protect every person’s mental health as a universal human right.

This as KNCHR joins Kenyans and the global community in commemoration of the 2023 World Mental Health Day with this year’s theme being, “Mental is a Universal Human Right”.  

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In a statement, the Commission has urges mental health facilities to create a conducive physical and social environment and end inhumane and degrading practices such as involuntary detention and treatment, coercion, violence and abuse of service users.

Similarly, KNCHR is calling for an end to detention or shackling of persons with mental health care needs, including by families, health institutions or even faith-based organisations.

The Commission wants national and county governments to increase mental health budget and financing to realize the return on investment envisaged in the Mental Health Investment Case, 2021.

It is also advocating for speedy integration, collection and reporting of mental health indicators through the DHIS to inform mental health service delivery in the country.

This will effectively bridge the current data and information gap on mental health conditions experienced in Kenya.

The Commission further appeals for enhancement of mental health systems and improved access to community based mental health services to respond to the needy and most vulnerable groups such as persons with disabilities, older persons, intersex persons, victims of sexual, gender-based violence, and other victims of crime.


The World Health Organization (WHO) observes that there has been a 13pc rise in mental health conditions and substance use disorders in the last decade, with 1 in every 8 people estimated to have been living with a mental health condition as of WHO also further estimates that around 20pc of the world’s children and adolescents have a mental health condition, with suicide the second leading cause of death among 15-29-year-olds.

Due to the prevailing global and national economic crises that continue to affect peoples’ lives and livelihoods, there is no doubt therefore that the state of mental health has not gotten any better especially.

Report of the Taskforce on Mental Health of 2020

In the Kenyan context, the report of the Taskforce on Mental Health of 2020 pointed out that mental illness such as depression and suicide, substance use disorder, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia and other psychoses accounts for 13pc of the entire disease burden in Kenya.

The Ministry of Health’s Mental Health Investment Case 2021 puts the burden of mental health conditions at 62.2B annually (0.6 of the GDP) due to loss of productivity capacities.

The report further revealed that the investment required for selected clinical packages and population-based preventive interventions over a 10-year period is Kshs.81.7B or Kshs.1,712 per capita with return on investment (ROI) over the same period being Kshs.161.6B.

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