President Uhuru Kenyatta has emphasized the need for concerted efforts to eliminate the stigma associated with mental illness by actively supporting those in mental distress. The Head of State said those facing mental health challenges deserve to be helped instead of being discriminated against, pointing out that mental illness is a disease like others.
The President spoke on Tuesday when he presided over the groundbreaking ceremony for the construction of the ultra-modern Kenya International Mental Wellness hospital in Ngong, Kajiado County.
“As I lay the foundation stone for this seminal facility, I urge every Kenyan suffering from mental health challenges to seek assistance from the expanding network of facilities and services. Let therapy and mental health check-ups be a regular part of our health care just as regular check-ups are the norm for physical health,” the President said.
According to statistics from the Ministry of Health, at least 40 percent of patients are admitted to hospital and 25 percent seeking outpatient services have mental and neurological conditions.
President Kenyatta said when fully operational, the hospital will work closely with other regional and global centres of excellence to ensure Kenyans and the people in the region receive the highest standards of mental health services.
“It is important to underscore that the management of this hospital will ensure that all those seeking services here access quality mental health care services in an environment that promotes recovery with dignity and respect,’ the President said.
As a research facility, President Kenyatta said the hospital will collaborate with universities and other research institutions across the world to conduct research on mental health conditions aimed at improving evidence-based care that will inform the necessary policy shift in mental health care.
To ensure access to affordable quality mental health care, President Kenyatta said the National Health Insurance Fund benefit package will include mental health care services.
He called on other stakeholders to join the Government in scaling up investment in mental health care.
“Additionally, the Ministry of Health is operationalizing a mental health call centre to improve access to mental health services for all Kenyans,” the President said.
President Kenyatta thanked the Italian Government and other partners for supporting the mental wellness hospital project which is expected to complement the Mathare Mental Hospital located in Nairobi.