Mental Health

Kenya To Hold Public Hearing On Mental Health

The Kenyan government is taking mental health seriously and is ready to face it by taking bold steps.

According to WHO, “mental, neurological and substance use disorders make up 10% of the global burden of disease and 30% of non-fatal disease burden.”

Therefore, as part of efforts to combat mental health issues, the Kenyan Ministry of Health set up a Taskforce on Mental Health on December 11, 2019.

Now, the Taskforce is set to take memoranda from members of the public. While releasing the timetable for the meeting of the Taskforce on Friday, the Ministry of Health issued a Statement urging members of the public to partake orally or by submission of written memoranda.

The Statement reminded the members of the public about the reason behind the constitution of the Taskforce:

“The Taskforce was mandated to; assess the prevailing mental health status in Kenya, the social determinants and other factors contributing to adverse mental health; assess the mental health systems including the legal and policy framework and report on the recommendation to outline legal, policy and administrative reform proposals aimed at transforming mental health systems for improved mental health and quality of life.”

The public was also encouraged to pay attention to three key areas as they prepared to participate in the public hearing:

  • Priority mental health issues in their areas;
  • Proposed solutions to identified mental health issues;
  • Level of preparedness to address the mental health issues.

The Taskforce will be sitting from Monday 13th to Monday 27th January, 2020 and so all memoranda must be received on or before that date.

The inauguration of the Taskforce followed Cabinet directive on 21 November 2019 for the establishment of Mental Health Taskforce.

Mental Health In Kenya

Kenya has a significant share in the burden of mental health in Africa. So, there is an existing Mental Health Policy in the country.

“Mental disorders are a leading cause of years lived with disability in Kenya, behind only iron-deficient anemia,” according to a published article on the National Academy of Sciences.

The Kenya Mental Health Policy (2015-2030): Towards Attaining The Highest Standard of Mental Health gives reason why Mental Health is important in Kenya :

“Mental health is a key
determinant of overall health and socio-economic development. It influences individual
and community outcomes such as healthier lifestyles, better physical health, improved
recovery from illness, fewer limitations in daily living, higher education attainment, greater
productivity, employment and earnings, better relationships with adults and with children,
more social cohesion and engagement and improved quality of life.”

However, Kenya does not have a Mental Health Law. The Mental Health Bill introduced in 2014 is still not yet a law as it still awaits further discussion at Parliament.

It is not surprising therefore that the Kenyan government is looking towards strengthening the existing mental health policy through this new review, and perhaps, giving it a legal backing towards a mental-health-improved Kenya.

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