The government is set to train and hire more psychiatrists to improve the treatment and care for mental health patients in the country.
This, the ministry says will build a solid policy framework in the sector and put in place a systematic data gathering to improve care for the patients.
Speaking at a workshop in Nairobi today, Director of Mental Health (Ministry of Health) Dr Samuel Njuguna decried lack of specialists in the department, saying Kenya only has 106 psychiatrists most of them being taken by the private sector.
“We only have 106 psychiatrists in the country and most of them are in the private sector. We are in the process of increasing the number and so far we have been able to train 500 mental health nurses," he said.
Dr Njunguna said that at least 5 million Kenyans are suffering from mental health disorders, adding that the figure could be higher due to lack of a systematic method of collecting data for the specific mental health numbers.
He added that most people are not willing to seek medical attention because of the stigma associated with mental health.
“Mental illness is prevalent among the youths aged 18 to 24 but most of them do not seek proper medication. Additionally, treating mental illness is very costly," he said.
The workshop was organised by the Center for Public Health and Development (CPHD) and CitiesRise, which was aimed at crafting policies to promote mental health care in the cities.
CPHD chairman Bernard Olayo urged the government to develop a policy that will see mental health services provided in all health facilities to improve access to treatment.
He called for a sensitisation programme to reduce discrimination and stigma among mental health patients.
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