What can be done to improve mental healthcare in Kenya?
I am no authority on mental illness, but I can say I do know a bit about it because I am also a Social Scientist. I did courses in my undergraduate & post-graduate (e.g. Medical Sociology and Social Psychology) that really helped me better understand mental illness.
However, the most learning I’ve had is from lived experience. I have had people very close to me suffer from mental illness, both diagnosed & undiagnosed. I have witnessed first-hand the dangers of not addressing mental health with the same importance given to physical health.
In Kenya we have Mathare Mental Hospital (MMH) as the only public referral hospital for mental illness. I have visited it a number of times on personal grounds and I’d have to say the services are wanting. Those who suffer from drug addiction, anger management problems, mental illness, anti-social deviant behaviour and so on, seem to be lumped together. There’s a difference between a psychotic & a psychopath (read more on this).
The staff usually ‘contain’ the patients with an array of drugs which makes one wonder if that is the best/only solution. I tend to believe many people come out worse from MMH.
– *GOK to establish a research centre solely dedicated to Mental Healthcare (if we can borrow money to build railways for political mileage surely we can borrow money to do this)
– Psychology be introduced as a common-course from as early as high school-level of education
– GOK to set aside funds for roving clinics on Mental Health (same way they do with the Polio drive for children). This can be done with the county government infrastructure.
– GOK to provide *FREE mental healthcare prophylactic treatment then subsidise subsequent drugs needed by most patients which are usually taken for life
– GOK to form a multi-sectoral task force to aggressively combat mental illness (we need sociologists, psychologists, psychiatrists, counsellors, social workers, economists, parents, teachers, artists, etc. on board if this is to work). Most mental health has its genesis in childhood ergo, any significant other involved in child upbringing must be a stakeholder in the process
– Many people who end up in prisons are suffering from undiagnosed mental illness. GOK should have a separate unit solely dedicated to interrogating cases of mental illness in prisons and form subsequent programmes to mitigate the influx (N.B.: prison systems need to be rehabilitative not retributive).
*GOK here to mean Ministry of Health (& CEC Health Offices under the County Government)
*Nothing is really FREE but at least ‘free’ here means that GOK pays for it on your behalf as a citizen
Mental Health is no lesser to Physical Health. If you have a physical ailment which is untreated you eventually die. Likewise, if you have mental illness that is undiagnosed and untreated , your mind shatters & you also die.
Share your thoughts and lets put an end to mental illness.