I n the past month, there has been a lot of talk about mental health. It started off in May when the patients at Mathari Hospital planned and executed a breakout from the treatment facility. In June, the President of our lovely country Kenya, addressed alcohol dependency in the country as well as proclaiming war on drugs. With these news stories filling up our television screens, Facebook newsfeeds and twitter, it begs to ask what is happening in mental healthcare.

Kenya_mental healthMental Health vs Mental Illness
According to WHO, mental health is the state of well-being in which every person actualizes his or her own potential, can deal with the daily stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully and is able to make a contribution to his or her community. Mental illness on the other hand is a group of non-communicable medical disorders that affect an individual’s thoughts, feelings and behaviour to the extent that social integration becomes problematic.

What is being done?
Scientifically, since 2001, the AMHF has been carrying out research on mental health and Neurological disorders. KEMRI has done extensive research on epilepsy as well as other neurological disorders. Legally, the International Institute of Legal Affairs (IILA) is advocating for the Mental Health Bill 2013. Educationally, KICD is involved in the structuring of Autistic children’s learning curriculum. Diagnosis and Treatment is offered by hospitals where psychiatrists as well as psychologist run clinics.

What needs to be done?
In order to impact the whole population of Kenya it is important that a National Mental Health Awareness Campaign is carried out. This initiative will not only require financial contributions but interaction of all stockholders: meaning you and me; we need to continue talking about mental wellbeing, epilepsy treatment, alcohol dependency and drug addiction. As Kenyans, we need to advocate for the ethical treatment of mentally ill patients as well as those affected by neurological disorders.

Author Bio

Mary Githumbi

My name is Mary Githumbi and I am a third year university student; I am double majoring in Neuroscience and Psychology. Mental health and research into the stigma associated with it is my passion.


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