The government is keen on transforming the mental health care system through the construction of new modern facilities in efforts to address inequality among Kenyans in seeking treatment.
Dr. Catherine Syengo Mutisya who is a Senior Psychiatrist at the Ministry of Health says the government is in the process of making key implementations aimed at easing the mental health burden that has been largely exposed by the Covid-19 pandemic.
“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 disclosed
Dr. Catherine stated that government is working towards ensuring all health facilities have accessible mental health services which will include retraining of nurses and clinical officers on how to diagnose mental disorders.
“Moving 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 tele-medicine to enable the government reach all mental health patients,” she said
#WorldMentalHealthDay @syengomutisya, Senior Psychiatric @MOH_Kenya: The government is putting up a modern Psychiatric hospital which will also serve as Mental Health Research Center. The situation of our mental health facilities is improving. ^PW@MOHmentalhealth #WMHD2021 pic.twitter.com/X67ztybUq0
— KBC Channel1 News (@KBCChannel1) October 10, 2021
Dr. Catherine revealed 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, the most prevalent being depression.
“Research shows that 50% of people accessing health care in a general hospital for any reason have a mental condition which either has not been identified,” she explained
And as the World marks Mental Health Day, Dr. Catherine 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 stated
Some of the common symptoms of a mental health illness include; general behavior change in that an individual who was previously happy appears sad, withdrawal from social circles whereby most individuals prefer to be alone which affects their performance at work and life in general.
Last year, the National Taskforce on mental health declared mental illness a National Emergency of epidemic proportions and made various recommendations including allocation of resources to mental health care and refurbishment of Mathari mental hospital among others.
The world Mental Health Day is celebrated on October 10th each year to create awareness about mental disorders and well-being as well as prevention. This year’s theme is, “Mental health in an unequal world”