Taskforce on mental health decries underfunding

The Mathari mental hospital photo courtesy

The taskforce on Mental health has decried the lack of funding by the government as the main challenge facing mental health to those affected by the problem across the country.

Speaking during its tour at Mathari Teaching and Referral Hospital, the mental health task force chair Dr. Frank Njenga said that there is a need for the governments to set aside adequate resources as outlined in the Mental Health Policy.

The team insisted on the need for adequate funding as a remedy to mental health challenges facing the country.

The chair of the taskforce Dr. Njenga saying no amount of workforce will underplay the need for proper mental health care infrastructure.

The participants expressed the need for strengthening the mental health sector saying the number of people having mental illnesses was on the increase.

The experts, however, noted that despite the challenge of funding the country has made major strides in addressing mental health, which was in the past shrouded in mystery and stigma.

In December last year, the government formed the task force to examine the state of mental health in Kenya.

This followed a directive from President Uhuru Kenyatta as a result of the exponential growth in cases of depression and general mental sickness that continues to have a negative effect on society.

At the moment, the country has 88 active psychiatrists and barely a dozen Government hospitals that can handle mental illnesses.

Experts say that  Mathari Hospital, the country’s only mental referral facility, is in the worst of state.

According to the former Health Cabinet Secretary Sicily Kariuki, Sh1 billion is needed to get it back on track. One nurse handles up to 150 patients, all booked in as law offenders.