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Dr Frank Njenga, who chaired the Taskforce on Mental Health, hands over the report to Health CS Mutahi Kagwe as PS Susan Mochache looks on.

Capital Health

Declare Mental Health a national disaster: Taskforce

NAIROBI, Kenya Jul 7- Mental Health may soon be declared a national disaster in the country if recommendations made by the task-force on Mental Health are implemented by the government.

Speaking while submitting the report to the Ministry of Health on Tuesday, Taskforce Chairperson Dr Frank Njenga said mental health issues are deep-rooted and it is high it is given the attention it deserves.

The task force further recommended that an independent mental health commission be formed to monitor people’s happiness levels and provide a report annually.

“We are recommending an equally decisive declaration by our government that recognizes that too many people are dying either by suicide or by the root of gender-based violence and we suggest that such a move will and can save lives,” Njenga said.

The Njenga-led taskforce also recommended that mental health services be well funded by the government in order to encourage many people to open up and share their problems without fear of how much it will cost them to treat the disorders.

Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe said mental health issues have increased since March when coronavirus pandemic was confirmed in the country.

“These psychosocial issues have compounded the problem of the current pandemic. The rising number of mental health-related issues such as depression some of which have ended up in suicide has been a concern to the government,” Kagwe said.

Last month, a young woman killed her four children and caller her relatives to inform her where the bodies were. She had also bought them new clothes for their burial. She is facing charges.

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In the same month of June, a man killed his wife and son in Mwiki our of family-related frustrations, he was arrested as he tried to dispose off his son’s body after cutting it into two.

The latest incident occurred in Kisumu where a female police officer shot and injured her husband accusing him of giving their house help Sh50 without her knowledge.

President Uhuru Kenyatta ordered the formation of the task-force amid rising depression and mental sickness which led to high cases of murder and suicide.

The task force was mandated to assess Kenya’s mental health systems including the legal, policy and administrative environment to identify areas that may benefit from reform, for optimal delivery.

 The team was also expected to broadly consider the changing societal dynamics and associated threats to mental well-being such as substance abuse, gambling, sexual and gender-based violence, cyberbullying, child abuse and neglect.

Depression is the most common mental illness worldwide.

The World Health Organization’s 2014 report ranked Kenya at position four in Africa with 1.9 million people who have the condition.

According to the Kenya Mental Health Policy (2015-2030), 20-25 per cent of outpatients seeking primary healthcare presented symptoms of mental illness.

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