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Parliament urged to support development of comprehensive policy on mental health

Speaking during the launch of sexual harassment and anti-bullying policy, Senator Kasanga (pictured) said with recent statistics showing at least one out four people are affected by mental illness, there is need to develop policies to address the challenge/COURTESY

NAIROBI, Kenya, Oct 29 – Nominated Senator Sylvia Kasanga has emphasized the need to develop a comprehensive policy on mental health to address the needs of those affected.

Speaking during the launch of sexual harassment and anti-bullying policy, Kasanga said with recent statistics showing at least one out four people are affected by mental illness, there is need to develop policies to address the challenge.

Her remarks come at time when mental health has been rated as the leading cause of suicide in the country.

The number of people seeking counselling services has also been low due to what has been attributed to a mainly conservative society which exposes those suffering from mental illness often to stigmatization.

Psychologists have linked increased cases of suicide or mental health to tough economic times and inadequate skills to face life.

Kenya was ranked fourth in Africa with 1.9 million people who have the condition, according to a report published in 2014.

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

Estimates show 20 to 25 per cent of outpatients in primary healthcare present symptoms of mental illness at any one time, while government statistics indicate that at least 1 in every 4 Kenyans suffer from mental illness at one point in their lives.

“It is okay not to be okay, there is need to seek help as there is no harm in it,” Kasanga said.

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Law Society of Kenya Chairperson Allen Gichuhi further termed gender-based violence as a cancer to the society.

A survey carried by international bar association in six continents showed 1 in to 2 women have experienced harassment in their workplace.

“Both sexes suffer from it, there is need to seek help for more productivity in workplaces, we should avoid bullying and intimidation,” Gichuhi said.

Gichuhi urges all seniors to respect juniors to provide a conducive environment for everyone to work.

Speakers at the launch of sexual harassment and anti-bullying policy called for the speedy adoption of proposed amendments to Mental Health Amendment Bill (2018) to address emerging concerns.

The National Assembly is considering the Mental Health Amendment Bill (2018) which proposes a framework to—promote the mental health and well-being of all persons, including reducing the incidences of mental illness, co-ordinate the prevention of mental illness, access to mental health care, treatment and rehabilitation services of persons with mental illness.

It also seeks to reduce the impact of mental illness, including the effects of stigma on individuals, family and the community, promote recovery from mental illness and enhance rehabilitation and integration of person with mental illness into the community, and ensure that the rights of a person with mental illness is protected and safeguarded.

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