A young Kenyan is appealing to the government to provide dignified care for mental health patients in facilities.
John Mwangi, a Nguvu Change Leader has launched an online petition seeking equality and dignified care of mental health patients.
On World Human Rights Day 2023 themed Freedom, Equality, and Justice for All, Mwangi spoke regarding his experience in a psychiatric ward where he was severely abused.
“They denied me a bed to sleep on, locked me up in a dark solitary confinement infested with fleas where I was verbally abused. I was stripped naked, whipped, sedated, and felt neglected,” Mwangi says.
The 30-year-old referred to the horrific treatment he got back in 2019 at a facility when he was admitted by his parents following his suicidal thoughts.
He says the facility where he stayed for a month hoping to find a solution turned into his nightmare.
“I was made to feel like I am not a human and unworthy of dignity and respect. Ironically, the place I had gone to seek care and healing ended up adding to my trauma. My intended caregivers became my perpetrators,” he says.
Mwangi, now a survivor says there was no one to fight for his rights that drove him into mental health advocacy.
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He believes that stringent action to counter the kind of abuse he has suffered will encourage people to seek treatment without fear.
"Every human being deserves to feel safe while seeking help to address a mental health crisis. Ostracising such a person and abusing their trust should not be normalised especially in mental health facilities. It is time to change this narrative once and for all," he added.
His petition through the Psychosocial Development and Response Organization to the Ministry of Health is an attempt to expose the harsh realities prevalent in the country’s mental healthcare.
"It's time to translate these rights into tangible reforms within our mental health care system. Untreated mental health problems are a ticking timebomb. Urgent action is needed to ensure that those who need support don't endure distress in silence due to fear and prejudice," noted Mwangi.
He has further appealed to the government to ensure sensitization training for all staff in mental health facilities on human and patient rights.