UHC SUCCESS

Senator wants mental health included in primary healthcare

One in four Kenyans suffers from one form of mental problem

In Summary

• Senator is also the sponsor of the Mental Health Bill which is currently at public participation stage. 

• She met chairman of task force created to formulate policies to address growing concerns about mental health among Kenyans. 

Senators Michael Mbito and Sylvia Kasanga after meeting the Mental Health Task Force at a Nairobi Hotel yesterday.
CONCERN: Senators Michael Mbito and Sylvia Kasanga after meeting the Mental Health Task Force at a Nairobi Hotel yesterday.
Image: MAGDALINE SAYA

Mental health should be integrated into primary healthcare system, a legislator told the task force on mental health on Thursday.

This will not only help Kenyans to get wholesome healthcare but also help fight the stigma, nominated Senator Sylvia Kasanga said when she met the Mental Health task force chairman Frank Njenga at a Nairobi hotel. 

The senator said the fact that one in four Kenyans suffers from one form of a mental problem should be a wake-up call for the country to discuss mental health.

Kasanga is the sponsor of the Mental Health Bill now in public participation stage.

“What we want is if you go to the hospital and the doctor cannot find anything or any physical manifestation of illness there should be a psychologist or counsellor nearby who can then take over the case. He can then treat you for mental illness,” she said.

She said someone should wake up and say they are going to see a psychiatrist or a psychologist without feeling like they are being judged.

The task force concluded its public hearing early this month and has retreated to write its report for handing over to the President by February 28 for debate by the Cabinet.

The task force was constituted last November 21 and inaugurated on December 11 by outgoing Health CS Sicily Kariuki. 

The team is expected to formulate policies to address concerns about mental health among Kenyans. 

“There is nothing wrong with being mentally unwell. There is no health without mental health and we are telling the government as they are rolling out Universal Health Coverage they can’t do that without talking about mental health,” the senator noted.

On behalf of Kenyans, the task force has a responsibility to assess the causes of the increase in mental ill-health and recommend transformative solutions.

The team held forums in Meru, Makueni, Eldoret, Nakuru, Mombasa, Kakamega, Kisumu, Nyeri and Garissa. Nairobi was their last host. 

Edited by R.Wamochie