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Kenyan companies losing due to a stressed and burnt out workforce – experts

36 percent of work-related illnesses is due to stress and burnout with 13 percent of employees being overworked/FILE

Nairobi, Kenya 21 November 2019 – Kenyan companies are losing billions to reduced productivity at the workplace due to stress and Burn out.

This was announced during the side-lines of the ongoing Mental Health Conference 2019 held at KICC.

Inuka Wellness Market Lead Kenya, Ankiza Gakunu, says 36 percent of work-related illnesses is due to stress and burnout with 13 percent of employees being overworked.

According to Gakunu, most employees dealing with mental health challenges do not seek help because of the stigma around it.

Gakunu was speaking while launching the Inuka Wellness App a digital Mental Well-being lifestyle app that connects users to Wellness Experts at their time of need allowing them to have immediate access to high level expertise at an affordable rate.

The app launch comes at a time the country is working on the 2015 – 2030 health policy that has a goal to achieve the highest standards of mental health.

Inuka has been launched in Kenya to bridge the accessibility and affordability barriers to quality mental health wellness and in turn increase productivity for employees,” explained Ms. Gakunu.

According to a May 2019 report, World Health Organization (WHO) included work “burnout” as an occupational phenomenon defining it as a syndrome resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed.

To remedy this, WHO recommended 10 mental health workers per 100,000 people. In Kenya, there is barely one health worker per 100,000 presenting a vast disparity in mental health professional support.

In her keynote speech at the official opening of the Mental Health Conference, Susan Mochache, Principal Secretary Health said, “Mental illness if left unattended will retrogress us there is urgent need for increased access to Mental Health Wellness.  Kenya has a large youth population, with 10-24-year olds constituting 60 – 70 percent the Kenyan population.  It is critical for the Nation to comprehensively address mental health risks associated with low access to mental health services and poor utilization of counselling services.”

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In her remarks, Senator Sylvia Kasanga recognized that the Economic strain in Kenya has increased mental health concerns compelling the mental health Amendment Bill to be tabled in Kenya’s Parliament. “Growing mental health needs and endemic gender-based violence is placing pressure on Kenya’s health systems to address and respond to these needs.”

According to the Kenya Mental Health Policy (2015-2030), mental disorder cases in Kenya continue to rise rapidly.

World Vision statistics show that approximately 25 percent of outpatients and 40 percent of inpatients receiving health treatment experience mental disorder. However less than one in five individuals with mental disorder receive evidence-based treatment.

Dr Simon Njuguna Director Mental Health, Ministry of Health indicated that one of the primary objectives of the Kenya Mental Health Policy (2015-2030) is to ensure persons affected by mental health are not stigmatized but are treated with dignity.”

Designed by Prof. Dixon Chibanda, a renown psychiatrist and Director of the Friendship Bench, an NGO created to train lay workers to be able to give therapy. The method showed it is effective to treat depression by training lay workers across Africa. The method is currently supporting over 150,000 annually.

Inuka was piloted in the Philips Innovation Hub to help at-risk employees realize that mental health support is accessible and available via online chats on their phone – anonymously, anytime and anywhere.

The app is downloadable from the Google Play Store and has a free self-assessment test which enables users to check their mental health status. Based on the risk-level they are connected to top mental health experts for Sh650 per session or Sh2500 for four sessions.

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