MENTAL ILLNESS

Mental health a major public health priority — CS Kagwe

In Kenya, it is estimated that one in every 10 people suffer from mental illness.

In Summary

• Kagwe noted that mental health conditions remain a silent epidemic resulting from associated stigma, discrimination, reduced access to treatment and psychosocial support.

• In Kenya, it is estimated that one in every 10 people suffer from mental illness. Alcohol is the highest contributor to mental illness.

Health CS Mutahi Kagwe speaking during a site visit of the Chiromo Hospital Group in Nairobi on July 19, 2021.
Health CS Mutahi Kagwe speaking during a site visit of the Chiromo Hospital Group in Nairobi on July 19, 2021.
Image: MOH

Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe has termed mental health a major public health priority with significant social and economic implications.

Speaking during a site visit of the Chiromo Hospital Group in Nairobi on Monday, the CS noted that mental health conditions remain a silent epidemic resulting from associated stigma, discrimination, reduced access to treatment and psychosocial support.

In Kenya, it is estimated that one in every 10 people suffer from mental illness with depression leading the cases. Alcohol is the highest contributor to mental illness.

In August 2020, mental healthcare was ranked as one of the fastest-growing sectors in the digital health market. 

The development was attributed to increased anxiety disorders and depression in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic. 

According to a recent World Economic Forum brief, over 10,000 apps have been developed claiming to boost one’s mood, better one’s sleep and aid in overcoming addiction. 

With its inclusive nature, online counselling has also been customised for those living with visual and hearing impairments.

The physically disabled and those unable to leave their homes can also easily access e-therapy services with little inconvenience.

Last year, Dr Frank Njenga said increasing cases of depression are causing suffering in homes.

Njenga, who was the chairperson of the Taskforce on Mental Health said that many people are living with stigma based on what they are going through during this period when the world is fighting Covid-19.

"We need to put in place strategies to manage mental health to deal with the burden which is there," Njenga said.

Health CS Mutahi Kagwe added that since coronavirus disease struck the country, it has caused a lot of anguish and suffering.

"Majority of our people have gone through a lot of problems, including depression," Kagwe said.