• Organisation taking mentally ill persons off the streets, taking them for treatment at Port Reitz Mental Clinic and rehabilitating them.
• WHO Annual Report of 2017 ranks Kenya as sixth in African countries with the highest rates of depression (1.9 million cases).
Drug abuse and depression are the leading causes of mental illness at the Coast, experts have said.
Cultural beliefs by family members — that mental illness is an evil — also increase the isolation and suffering of patients.
“This is because most of the people do not believe mental illness is a disease that can be treated. They believe it needs al Badir,” Mombasa Women Empowerment Network chairperson Amina Abdalla said on Monday.
Al Badir is an Islamic prayer recited by religious leaders over anyone suspected to have done something evil, like stealing, maiming or killing— or abusing drugs.
She spoke at Port Reitz Mental Clinic after donating goods including mattresses, general supplies and other equipment.
The organisation is taking the mentally ill people off the streets, taking them for treatment at Port Reitz Mental Clinic and rehabilitating them.
“Because they believe in Al Badir, they do not believe their family member can be treated in a hospital. They then let their loved one suffer," Abdalla said.
Port Reitz nursing officer in charge Joseph Kanyi said most mentally ill youth brought to the facility suffer from drug abuse and depression.
The facility receives as many as five inpatients and as many as 30 outpatients a day.
Initial treatment may take just two weeks, mostly for those whose cause is depression and drugs. But real rehab and changing ideas takes much longer.
Kanyi said the drugs affect the brain.
“Like in muguka, when you take it, it deprives you of sleep. That means you can go for five days without proper sleep. This means the brain gets tired and starts malfunctioning."
Abdalla said already they took five patients to Port Reitz last week and another five will be taken off the streets to the facility this week.
“Of the five we brought last week, four are progressing well and may be released this week."
After release, they will be taken to a 25-capacity rehabilitation centre established by the network. “The after-care includes medication and counselling which they will continue with."
The activist said 70 per cent of the cases of mental illness she has dealt with are a result of drug abuse.
According to the World Health Organization, Kenya has an estimated six million people who suffer from common mental conditions such as depression, substance abuse, stress and anxiety.
The WHO Annual Report of 2017 ranks Kenya as sixth in African countries with the highest rates of depression, 1.9 million cases.
Edited by R.Wamochie