Belief in witchcraft to blame for mental disorders rise in Kisii— Doctors

The medics say unhealthy practices only contribute to delaying medical treatment for those affected

In Summary
  • Doctors cite superstitions as impediment to treating mental health patients
  • Raise concern over steady rise in cases in Kisii and Nyamira counties 
Doctors in Kisii under the Gusii Mental Health during a sensitization visit to the PCEA church in Kisii on Sunday

Health care professionals in Kisii have raised concern on the steady rise in mental health related cases in the region.

Some people, they observed, still continue to hold on to mystic beliefs that some mental disorders are caused by witchcraft. 

Team leader Dr Mary Njuguna said such unhealthy practices only contribute to delaying medical treatment for those affected.

"As we mark the the mental health awareness week, we want to dispel this so that the patients can start medication early enough and get cured," Njuguna said.

Each year the month of May is set aside for global mental awareness campaigns. 

Around 20 per cent of the world's children and adolescents have a mental health condition, with suicide the second leading cause of death among 15-29 year olds. 

Approximately one in five people in post-conflict settings have a mental health condition. The World Health Organizations estimates 792 million across the globe to be nursing mental health problems. 

In Kenya over 10.3%,of the population have mental problems. 

Njuguna  said with concerted efforts,  the level of awareness among Kenyans about mental health can grow and wean them off such barbaric beliefs.

Njuguna was speaking at Taracha Two Seventh Day Adventist Church on Saturday.

The medic is part of a team of 15 medical personnel sponsored by Gusii Mental Health, a USA based medical group.

The doctors conduct outreaches in churches and other public forums in Kisii and Nyamira counties. On Sunday, the medics visited PCEA church in Mwembe, Kisii,  for a similar sensitisation drive.

Margaret Mogaka, gender departmental head at the Kisii Teaching and Referral Hospital, said incidents of gender based violence are rampant in the region with severe mental challenges.

"If we treat mental conditions we are in one way also addressing gender based violence as well,"she said.

Birongo MCA Shem Nyamwaya who was present at the Taracha SDA church said more still needs to be done in terms of legislation to address funding gaps in the campaigns on  mental health. 



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