Kisii County residents have been reminded to be on the lookout for signs that people in their community may require further assistance with mental health difficulties. Dr. Mary Njuguna, a psychiatrist at Kisii Teaching and Referral Hospital (KTRH), stated during a four-day mental health awareness initiative that one in every ten community members has a mental disorder and that residents must identify those with mental health issues and refer them for screening and treatment.
“We’re encouraging young people to check themselves and decide if they have signs of depression, anxiety, and so on,” she stated. “If you have any of these illnesses, you can come to the hospital and get the therapy you need.”
Dr. Njuguna stated that as part of the World Health Organization’s Mental Health Awareness Month in May, they were also raising mental health awareness among Kisii county staff to assist them in detecting mental problems affecting people.
One in every four hospital patients, according to the Psychiatrist, has a mental health ailment.
According to the World Health Organization, Kenya ranks fourth in Africa and ninth internationally in terms of mental illness, with 1,9 million individuals suffering from it. Another Psychiatric Clinical Officer at KTRH, Rodgers Omuya, advised county residents to seek treatment at various hospitals if any family members show signs of mental illness.
“We want our people to understand that mental health difficulties are not tied to witchcraft, but rather to any other condition that can be treated so that individuals may return to work,” he said.
Because mental illness is a chronic sickness, Kemunto Onyancha, a Social Worker at KTRH, suggested that people suffering from it enroll in the National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF) to help with treatment costs.
“We request that the county government put aside funding for underprivileged families with mental health patients for them to receive critical care in all of our health facilities,” she said.
The Kenya Mental Health Action Plan 2021-2025 was developed by the Kenyan government to decentralize mental health services and initiatives to primary health care at the community level.
Through strategic initiatives, the action plan aims to establish a framework for national and county governments to implement the Kenya Mental Health Policy 2015-2030 and Taskforce on Mental Health recommendations.
The strategy will fix existing gaps in mental health systems by establishing goals for improving mental healthcare financing through various mechanisms, such as universal health coverage (UHC). The federal and state governments are expected to contribute cash to the development of user-friendly mental health infrastructure and services.