•The task force led by Frank Njenga concluded its public hearing yesterday
·The report is to be written and presented to the government by February 28
Politicians might soon be required to produce a mental health report before being allowed to vie for any public office should the Mental Health Task force put views of Kenyans into consideration.
In a presentation to the task force at KICC in Nairobi yesterday, Catherine Gachutha, a counseling psychologist noted that there is a lot of toxicity in the environment because of what politicians say in complete disregard of how it affects Kenyans.
Gachutha is the director at Kenya Institute of Business and Counselling Studies and the Community Anti Drugs Coalition of Kenya.
“A report by WHO says we have had the highest prevalence of suicides in Kenya in 2007, 2013 and 2017. It was at a time Kenyans were expecting that something good was going to come,” Gachutha said.
The task force led by Frank Njenga concluded its public hearing yesterday but said Kenyans have until the end of the week to present their views.
“We were given 80 days so we don’t have too many days left. The intention is that we will have finished writing and we will present the report to government underlining the urgency of the matter by February 28,” Njenga told the journalists in Nairobi.
The task-force was constituted on November 21 and inaugurated on December 11 by the Health CS Sicily Kariuki.
The team is expected to formulate policies to address growing concerns about mental health among Kenyans.
On behalf of Kenyans, the task force has a responsibility to assess the causes of the increase in mental ill-health occurrences and recommend transformative solutions to the epidemics
“The taskforce will receive and compile the views of Kenyans on all matters mental health. The likely hood is the taskforce will be making recommendations embedding the views of Kenyans in all matters to do with healthcare delivery,” Njenga added.
In addition, the team was urged to consider the changing societal dynamics and associated threats to mental well-being such as substance abuse, gambling, sexual and gender-based violence, cyberbullying, child abuse and neglect.
“Although we have gone to a sample of counties the information we have collected will be representative of information from the whole country,” task force member Halima Mwanesi said.
The forums were conducted in Meru, Makueni, Eldoret, Nakuru, Mombasa, Kakamega, Kisumu, Nyeri, Garissa. Nairobi was the last county to host the taskforce.
“Among the recurrent themes is the issue of from an early age we start teaching about mental health literacy the same way we talk about hygiene, sanitation. The people are saying they need to be taught about mental health from an early age in terms of how to promote mental health, how to prevent mental illness and how to get care when you start feeling unwell,” Lukoye Atwoli said.
From the presentations, it also emerged that the withholding tax imposed on betting companies by the government had actually fueled addiction since Kenyans are now placing more on bets with the hope that should the win be taxed they will still have a bigger share.