MENTAL HEALTH

Eliminate stigma associated with mental illness - Uhuru

"Let therapy and mental health check-ups be a regular part of our health care, just as regular check-ups are the norm for physical health,"

In Summary

• To ensure access to affordable quality mental health care, President Uhuru said the NHIF benefit package will include mental health care services.

• He called on other stakeholders to join the Government in scaling up investment in mental health care.

President Uhuru Kenyatta speaking during the ground breaking ceremony for the construction of the ultra-modern Kenya International Mental Wellness hospital in Ngong, Kajiado County on Tuesday, June 14,2022.
President Uhuru Kenyatta speaking during the ground breaking ceremony for the construction of the ultra-modern Kenya International Mental Wellness hospital in Ngong, Kajiado County on Tuesday, June 14,2022.
Image: PSCU

President Uhuru Kenyatta on Tuesday emphasized the need for concerted efforts to eliminate the stigma associated with mental illness by actively supporting those in mental distress.

Uhuru said those facing mental health challenges deserve to be helped instead of being discriminated against, pointing out that mental illness is a disease like others.

"Let us eliminate the stigma around mental health by actively supporting those in mental distress through offering a helping hand and an understanding shoulder to lean on,” he said.

He was presiding over the groundbreaking ceremony for the construction of the ultra-modern Kenya International Mental Wellness hospital in Ngong, Kajiado County.

“As I lay the foundation stone for this seminal facility, I urge every Kenyan suffering from mental health challenges to seek assistance from the expanding network of facilities and services."

"Let therapy and mental health check-ups be a regular part of our health care, just as regular check-ups are the norm for physical health," Uhuru said.

The President further said when fully operational, the hospital will work closely with other regional and global centres of excellence to ensure Kenyans receive the highest standards of mental health services.

"Indeed, it is expected to bring a paradigm shift in the existing negative narratives and attitudes associated with mental illness. It is only right that people freely seek mental health services without fear or shame, and this facility will provide that environment," he said.

To ensure access to affordable quality mental health care, President Uhuru said the NHIF benefit package will include mental health care services.

He called on other stakeholders to join the Government in scaling up investment in mental health care.

He said the state constituted a special task force on mental health to study the status of mental health in the country and recommend transformative solutions to reform the country’s mental health systems.

“The report clearly specified the key mental health issues that are of concern to Kenyans. But more importantly, it provided clear recommendations, which, once effectively implemented, will go a long way in improving the mental wellbeing of our people."

As a follow-up to the task force recommendations, Uhuru said the Government has taken a raft of measures including building human resource capacity for mental health through the recruitment and deployment of 146 psychologists to the 47 counties.

He added that the state is also in the process of establishing a mental health information system to collect and manage data on Mental Health in Kenya.

"This database will form a platform on which Kenya’s future mental health policies and investments in mental healthcare will be anchored."

"The Ministry of Health is operationalizing a mental health call centre with the goal of improving access to mental health services for all Kenyans,” he added.

President Uhuru thanked the Italian Government and other partners for supporting the mental wellness hospital project.

Other speakers included Health CS Mutahi Kagwe, Kajiado Governor Joseph Ole Lenku, and Italian Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Minister Luigi Di Maio.

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