The Sorry State of Mental Health In Kenya

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It is so devastating to see a loved one suffer but there is not much you can do about it. This is the current situation in Kenya in regards to mental illness.

Mental illness, not only in Kenya but in Africa is a stigma that has caused many people to suffer in silence. For most cultures, this condition is attributed to either witchcraft or spiritual problem.

Government statistics indicate that at least one in every four {1:4} Kenyans suffer from a mental illness at one point in their lives; this is about 11.5 million people.

The latest statistics revealed that there are only 92 psychiatrists and
427 psychiatrist nurses Kenya, to deal with the 11.5 million mental cases, yet we need about 1533 to effectively manage the situation.

It could be the reason why 5 in every 6 mentally ill Kenyans do not receive treatment. Another cause of the lack of treatment is the cost, of course with limited practitioners it means you will have to dig deeper in your pockets to get the treatment.

When we speak of limited resources, as of now, mental health care services available in only 29 of 284 hospitals rated level 4 and above, and about 10 medical social workers and a few mental psychologists and counselors who are competent to handle mental issues.

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We all know that regular medical care is quite expensive in Kenya, you can imagine how costly it cost be for special cases, and we will tell you how much it cost for this special case.

First of all, the budgetary allocation for mental health is only 0.5% of health budget thus leaving the mental equation completely overstretched.  Some of the major disorders in Kenya are mental, behavioural and personality disorders.

Treating mental illness in Kenya is roughly between Sh50, 000 to Sh100, 000 before factoring in on the doctors’ consultation fee of Sh10, 000.

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CLMC – Mental Health Hospital-Kenya. 

Mathari, Kenya’s known public mental health facility requires a down payment of Sh10, 000 before admission, but one can get express admission if he/she has the NHIF card.

How about a private facility? Sh3000 to Sh5000 per day every time a psychiatrist attends to a patient. Remember some doctors recommend a patient to stay for between 2-3 months before recovery. Pretty hefty, right?

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The lack of ability to attract and retain mental health professionals is evident in a number of graduate schools in Kenya. It is a universal held principle that psychologists and counsellors are management pillars of mental health.

It is no wonder we have raising suicidal and murder cases, the mental health of Kenya is in a crisis. Again, the African culture has not yet embraced psychiatric help for stress management. Men are supposed to ‘suck-it-up’ and women share with fellow women, now how will a blind person lead another blind person?

As a nation we should rethink our mental health situation, right from the president, to the budget to the professionals, all round.

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