The government needs to establish a center for people with mental illnesses in Kilifi County.
A one-week sensitization campaign against mental health illnesses in Kilifi County, that ended on Sunday, revealed that majority of people suffering from mental health illnesses in the county were suffering due to lack of access to health facilities, hence the recommendation to establish a center in the county.
Reports showed there is only one mental health facility in the entire Coast region at Portreiz in Mombasa County, which cannot accommodate the high number of people affected by the mental health illness.
The one week campaign dubbed ‘Difu Simo’ a Giriama phrase meaning Breaking free is a collaboration of Malindi District Cultural Association (MADCA), Kenya Medical Research Institute Welcome Trust, Documentary Institute of Eastern Africa and funded by Welcome Trust Public Engagement Fund.
Speaking at Karisa Maitha Grounds in Kilifi during the climax of the sensitization campaign, Joseph Karisa Mwarandu the MADCA Secretary General said those with mental illness have been forgotten and abandoned which makes it difficult for them to get treatment.
He said they have come to learn that there are no mental health centers in Kilifi County despite the fact that the number of people with mental illness was high.
”It’s common to see people suffering mental illness loitering in the streets and towns, our advice to the members of the public is that the matter requires urgent attention as the victims are brothers, sisters, mothers who deserve necessary care,” he said.
According to Mwarandu, there is also a need to establish rescue centers at community levels for those with mental illnesses by giving them food, medication so that the services are closer to them as opposed to now where it’s difficult to access medication.
Nancy Kipkemoi a mental health worker from Portreiz hospital mental unit Mombasa said that mental health illness was a big problem which has not been taken care of.
She said the community has always believed that mental health illness is caused by witchcraft and the people never bothered to go to hospital.
She said mental illness cases are on the rise and many people are committing suicide due to the ailment
Nancy said the project was key in helping to reach out to the community for patients to get treatment early and go back to build society.
Kipkemoi said there is a lack of information about mental health treatment that’s why people resort to witchdoctors.
The mental health expert said stigma has caused mental health patients to stay long without medication, many times being chained which is wrong.