Medics decry burden of mental health patients in Kenya

by Amref Health Africa

Medics have decried the mental health crisis, saying at least 3,096 patients are suffering from mental illnesses.

In a survey conducted by AMREF health Africa, most of these patients are not taken to health facilities.

This is due to myths and misconceptions of witchcraft and generational curse as well as lack of resources.

Amref project manager Beatrice Okumu said there is need for capacity building for mental health workers and thorough sensitisation campaigns to end stigma.

She was speaking at Alba Hotel in Meru on Wednesday during a consultative meeting with Meru county health executive Misheck Mutuma.

“Mental illness is not a curse or witchcraft but it is genetics or due to hard drugs and substance abuse.

“In the research, we found more females are mentally ill than males and most are married.

Catherine Mwenda of Amref and Mwikamba Andrea, a psychiatrist said mental illnesses have caused close people to kill one another or commit suicide.

Mwenda urged Meru county government to factor in more resources in employment of psychiatrists and psychologists to aid handling of such patients.

Andrea said treatment in Meru is offered only at Meru Level 5 Hospital. It is however not affordable to vulnerable patients.

“There is increase in illicit brew consumption causing stress and intimate partner violence. Some are dying for not coping with loss of their loved ones caused by COVID-19,” Andrea said.

Mutuma said they intend to devolve these drugs and mental health services to level 3 and level 4 hospitals.

He said Governor Kiraitu Murungi administration will embark on public awareness to create knowledge that mental illness is a disease like any other and patients should seek medication before their conditions deteriorate.

 “We have discovered most secondary and university students, police officers and even teachers kill their partners then commit suicide due to mental illness after a short disagreement.

“All mild cases will start being handled at subcounties while Meru Level 5 Hospital will handle major cases,” Mutuma said.

(Edited by Bilha Makokha)

Article first published on

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