NEGLECTED

Mental conditions a silent epidemic — Kagwe

CS says public-private partnerships are key in quality healthcare

In Summary

•An estimated 25 per cent of outpatient and up to 40 per cent of in-patient health facility visits have diagnosed mental health conditions.

• CS says partnerships will provide a rich resource in capacity building, research and  infrastructure development.

Health CS Mutahi Kagwe accompanied by PS Susan Mochache visiting Level 5 Chiromo mental health facility in Nairobi on July 17.
MENTAL HEALTH: Health CS Mutahi Kagwe accompanied by PS Susan Mochache visiting Level 5 Chiromo mental health facility in Nairobi on July 17.
Image: MAGDALINE SAYA

A sharpshooter woman cop killed two men, then took her own life. She said she was depressed.

Every day, it seems, there's violence involving guns, knives, pangas and fire and many suspects say they are depressed and angry.

That makes the headlines but depression is a also a silent epidemic, at  worst causing terrible pain to those afflicted and those around them.

Mental health is a major public health priority with significant social and economic implications in terms of well-being and productivity, Health CS Mutahi Kagwe has said.

Touring the Chiromo Hospital Group in Nairobi on Saturday, Kagwe called mental health conditions a "silent epidemic because of stigma, discrimination, reduced access to treatment and lack of psychosocial support".

The Chiromo Hospital Group is a premier Level 5 private mental health facility in Sub Saharan Africa that offers in and outpatient specialised treatment.

Lacking facilities and resources, the government has sought partnerships in research, development and health interventions.

It is committed to promoting holistic mental wellness, preventing mental illnesses, managing mental illnesses and treating drug abuse..

“Through the Kenya Mental Health Action Plan 2021-2025, the national government, county governments and stakeholders seek to strengthen effective leadership and governance for mental health,” Kagwe said.

Health CS Mutahi Kagwe (centre) accompanied by PS Susan Mochache, presidential adviser on mental health Dr Frank Njenga and Chiromo Hospital Group staff members at the hospital on July 17.
MENTAL WELLNESS: Health CS Mutahi Kagwe (centre) accompanied by PS Susan Mochache, presidential adviser on mental health Dr Frank Njenga and Chiromo Hospital Group staff members at the hospital on July 17.
Image: MAGDALINE SAYA

He said the goal is to ensure access to comprehensive, integrated and high quality mental health services at all levels.

The CS underscored the importance of partnerships with local and international investors to provide resources in capacity-building, research and infrastructure development.

Presidential adviser on mental health and mental health taskforce chairperson Dr Frank Njenga said the Chiromo Hospital Group is the psychiatric institution of choice.

It has facilities that give its patients a dignified stay, considering that mental health facilities are often frowned upon as being dark and frightening.

“We decided to give dignity back to people who have mental health needs. The second component was to emphasise the importance of training and partnership," Dr Njenga said.

He said they are already training in the advanced diploma in mental health in collaboration with AMREF International University."

The CS visited Chiromo Hospital immediately after President Uhuru Kenyatta witnessed the signing of a MoU at State House between the Ministry of Health and Italian Health firm Gruppo San Donato. 

Health ministry data show mental illnesses in Kenya are a significant cause of ill-health. An estimated 25 per cent of outpatients and as much as 40 per cent of inpatient visits involve diagnosable mental health conditions.

The country has witnessed an unprecedented rate of suicide, with an estimated mortality of 5.6/100,000 population.

(Edited by Bilha Makokha)