What you need to know:
- Kenya was recently ranked 5th among African countries with the highest number of depression cases.
- According to WHO, one in every four Kenyans may be suffering from a mental health related issue.
On the 10th of October every year, nations mark the World Mental Health Day, an internationally recognised day for mental health education, awareness and policy advocacy.
This year's theme — as announced by the World Federation For Mental Health (WFMH) — is 'Mental health in an unequal world.' The theme emphasises the urgent need to care for people with mental health problems and psychosocial disabilities around the globe.
According to WFMH, access to mental health services remains unequal, with between 75 percent to 95 percent of people with mental disorders in low and middle income countries unable to access mental health in services. Moreover, lack of substantial investment in mental health contributes to the treatment gap.
It also adds that many people with mental illness do not receive the treatment they deserve and together with their families and carers continue to experience stigma and discrimination.
According to World Health Organization, health is a state of a complete physical, mental and social well-being and not just the absence of a disease.
Affordable mental health care
In Africa, majority of people with severe mental disorders such as depression and mild anxiety, do not have access to treatment that they need. Kenya was recently ranked 5th among African countries with the highest number of depression cases.
According to WHO, one in every four Kenyans may be suffering from a mental health related issue, ranging from mild to severe disorders. Despite these grim statistics, Kenya is still struggling with providing affordable mental health care and treatment.
Dr Frank Njenga, a psychiatrist, has described the status of mental health in Kenya as “an area of massive concern”.
A previous review of the mental health response to the Covid-19 pandemic in Kenya by the International Journal of Mental Health Systems showed that the country has no formal mental health response plan, and there is an unmet need for psychological first aid. During the suicide prevention day, which was observed last month, health experts said economic woes are leading to depression.
In conclusion, equal access to mental health is far more than just access to good treatment.
Ngari, 20, is a journalism student at Rongo University.
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