Mental Health of Men and Boys in Kenya

Article by Marie Miguel
Posted: January 21, 2022  

Kenya has a population of 44 million and a large percentage of those people will suffer from some type of mental health issue. Mental health is still a problem around the globe and Kenya faces its own challenges when it comes to the mental health of men and boys.

The mental health of all people can be a concern in Kenya and every other country, but men’s mental health includes factors that may not influence the well-being of women.

How is Male Mental Health Different?

Statistics show differences between mental health in males when compared with females in many countries around the world. Some research shows that men are more likely to die by suicide, less likely to pursue therapy, and have lower life satisfaction. The reasoning behind these statistics is likely partially cultural, but there are other factors at play that could span country borders as well.

In many countries, including Kenya, society is largely patriarchal and gender norms may influence males’ likelihood of seeking help with mental health. Kenyan culture largely places financial responsibility on men, and it is also common for the head male in a family to find better employment in urban areas leaving their family behind. All of these factors can put a strain on male well-being.

The symptoms of certain mental illnesses may also cause different symptoms in men and boys. For example, depression may be more likely to cause aggression, anger, and irritability in men than it is in women. Men are also more likely to cope using alcohol and drugs as well as other potentially harmful behaviors and escapism.

If you would like to learn more about the mental health of men and boys, then you should check out the articles and advice at

Kenyan Mental Health Policy

While Kenyan culture can influence the mental health of men in the country, there are other considerations to be made that also play a role in the development of mental illness. The 2015 to 2030 mental health policy in Kenya outlines a strategy for mental health reform in the country while older laws require hospitals to treat persons with mental illness. However, there is still plenty of progress to be made moving forward.

The mental health policy strives to reduce stigma, educate the population, and provide quality, accessible, and equitable mental healthcare services that meet or exceed WHO standards. Despite these efforts, in 2017 WHO recognizes Kenya as the country with the 5th highest number of depression cases.

Furthermore, the COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted mental health services throughout the world and placed a burden on the well-being of citizens. Part of the issue with male mental health in Kenya is the lack of reliable mental healthcare in many parts of the country.

Mental Health Services in Kenya

Kenya contains at least 14 general and provincial hospitals that offer mental healthcare and psychiatric care. The national psychiatric hospital has a 700-bed capacity and there are also private clinics, rehabilitation centers, and organizations working to increase access to mental health services.

The Kenyan Psychiatric Association (KPA) is an organization with a mission to promote mental health in Kenya through training, governance, empirical research, and mental health services. Another relevant organization is the Kenya Counseling and Psychological Association that seeks to offer professional counseling psychology services in the country.

Moving forward, many organizations believe that it is critical to use research to improve policies and practices regarding mental health in the country. However, there are some difficult challenges to face.


Mental Health Challenges in Kenya

There are various challenges faced by those who struggle with mental health conditions including financial constraints, discrimination, stigma, fear of violence, and poor availability of drugs and other treatment options.


In addition, the number of health personnel, particularly those specializing in mental health, is low. While urban areas tend to have more psychiatric nurses and mental health professionals, many rural areas lack the quality and volume of mental health professionals required for proper care and accessibility to services.


Research shows that a large percentage of the population feels that health care workers stigmatize and discriminate against people with mental disorders and psychological needs. Those who do suffer from mental health issues for themselves, or their loved ones may also be unaware of the types of services available in the country.


The Kenya Ministry of Health has declared that Kenya has a high burden of mental illness caused by poor health, psychosocial disability, and premature mortality. They also acknowledge the gaps in health care. Their report suggests a declaration of emergency for mental health and says that negative narratives cause a reduced focus on the benefits of good mental health, even though one in every ten people suffers from a common mental disorder.



While there are various challenges regarding mental health in Kenya, organizations and governing bodies around the country are striving to improve the resources available to Kenyan citizens. In addition, Kenyan men and boys face unique challenges caused by culture and other factors. Hopefully, these efforts lead to reduced stigma, better care, and a better understanding of mental health and well-being throughout the country.

About the author

Marie Miguel


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