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Therapy and Mental Health in Kenya

Article by The Editor
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Posted: March 05, 2021  

The status of mental healthcare in Kenya has made significant strides in recent years, but it is still estimated that 25 percent of all Kenyans have experienced some form of mental illness. Since there are too few mental health professionals in the country, many Kenyans have turned to virtual therapy for assistance.

The most common mental health issues in Kenya are dementia, substance abuse, and personality disorders. In addition, both depression and epilepsy are also common. However, in 2015 it was reported that there were only 100 psychiatrists in the entire country. It is important to reduce the stigma surrounding mental illness in Kenya while simultaneously increasing awareness and mental health resources.

Improving mental health can greatly increase your sense of well-being and overall quality of life. In 2015 a project to improve the status of mental health and mental illness in Kenya was put forth by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine’s Forum on Neuroscience and Nervous System Disorders and Board on Global Health.

This Mental Health Care Project aims to focus on any mental, neurological and substance use disorders in Kenya. The primary focus of the project is on the most burdensome of illnesses which, in Kenya, are alcohol abuse, epilepsy, and depression.

The Mental Health Care Project also wanted to increase the awareness of potential benefits to mental health. The project wanted to show that it could be beneficial to use traditional and faith healers into the Kenyan healthcare system. Traditional and faith healers are often much more accessible to people in Kenya and citizens often rely on their knowledge and expertise. Additionally, they are often accepted within the Kenyan communities more readily than other healthcare practitioners.

Because of this, the project wanted to encourage that the traditional and faith healers work closely with other healthcare practitioners. Furthermore, experts believe that these traditional and faith healers should be provided with access to modern medications, education, and additional mental health resources.

People in Kenya often experience strong stigma when it comes to their personal mental health and mental illnesses. There are stereotypes within the Kenyan culture that make it hard to move past this stigma. It is common for mental illness to be associated with evil spirits as well.

Kenyan citizens who suffer from mental health disorders sometimes internalize the negative perceptions towards them produced by their friends, family, and neighbors. This negatively impacts their view of themselves. It can also harm their overall quality of life and well-being. These issues with stigma make it even harder to provide sufficient treatment to Kenyans suffering from mental illness.

Experts want to increase awareness and education so that Kenyan citizens can seek the treatment they need and understand the benefits of therapy and mental healthcare. It is believed that more awareness and education will reduce the amount of stigma surrounding these issues.

In 2005, Kenya collaborated with the World Health Organization to implement mental health resources and care into the Kenyan healthcare system. Training was provided to healthcare staff around the country.

In 2014, Kenya presented a bill known as the Mental Health Bill. This bill was proposed in order to provide additional resources to Kenyan citizens suffering from mental illness. These resources include proper care and treatment options for the people of Kenya. Additionally, the bill wants to focus on the inequality of the Kenyan healthcare system. This would help to create access to healthcare services for lower income people.

However, experts say that this bill is not enough even though it is a large step in the right direction. Awareness and education of mental health disorders needs to be increased even more and funding for healthcare also needs to be incorporated. Awareness of effective treatment options also needs to increase so that Kenyan citizens can seek the help they needs whether that be online or in person.

 

*Image: Unsplash

About the author

The Editor

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