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60pc of mental health cases linked to abuse

 A woman said to be a trader (hawker) seats on the windscreen of the Nairobi City County (Kanjo) vehicle after her merchandise were allegedly taken by the County askaris along Kenyatta avenue,Nairobi on January 31, 2024. [Elvis Ogina, Standard] 

About 60 per cent of people treated and screened at Kisumu county hospital for mental health had experienced intimate partner violence, a study by a group of researchers has revealed.

With the country prevalence at 40 per cent for Intimate Partner Violence, the researchers noted that Kisumu may be recording high statistics and even leading.

The mental health study in Kisumu Funded by National Institute of Mental Health also revealed that at least six out of 10 women screened and treated had experienced intimate partner violence.

 Professor Muthoni Mathai, a Psychiatrist and one of the principal Investigators said there were also a few men. Statistics showed that only 20 per cent of men compared to 80 per cent of women report such violence.

She noted that culture was one of the reasons why men do not report intimate partner violence, but still women were more affected than men.

 “We have found that a lot of people are suffering from depression and need help,” she said.

Another Principal Investigator in the study, Dr Susan Mefferet of University of California San Francisco said they used an outpatient adult population from Kisumu County hospital adult primary care unit for the study.

 Dr Mefferet said they collaborated with the Ministry of Health to test implementation of scalable evidence based global standard of care treatment for the most common adult mental disorders in public sector primary care using evidence based psychotherapy and modern antidepressant.

 The study focused on mainly two disorders including depression and Post Traumatic Stress Disorders (PTSD).

Dr Mefferet said at the beginning of the study before treatment, about 95 per cent of people enrolled in it had depression or PTSD.

“At the end of the treatment we had about 12 to 20 per cent of patients still on diagnosis, which means we had to recommend a second treatment. This means close to 80 to 70 per cent drop in the number of patients who had complete cure,” she explained.

She noted that they experienced very low relapse.

“Sometimes people assume that at the end of treatment, the disorder is likely to come back six months after treatment.”

According to the study, there was a significant increase in ability to conduct work during the treatment period.

Dr Mefferet noted that this was because of an increase of income, with about 25 per cent increase.

“When we started the study about seven or eight days a month we reported people who were too sick to work or could not work very well. At the end of treatment, the number reduced to three days per month. After six months of follow-up and treatment, we now had only two days when people were unable to work effectively,” explained Dr Mefferet.

The major types of violence affecting most families include domestic violence, sexual abuse cases like rape and harmful cultural practices such as child marriage and Female Genital Mutilation (FGM).

In Kenya, just as in most African countries, GBV disproportionately affects more women than men. Indeed, government statistics from the Kenya Demographic and Health Survey (KDHS) indicate that over 40 per cent of women have experienced physical or sexual intimate partner violence in their lifetime.

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