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25% Kenyans at risk of mental illness

14 August 2015, 12:03 Joseph Njung'eh

Nairobi - One out of every four Kenyans will develop mental illness at one point in their lifetime, research shows.

The shocking statistics which have been released by African Mental Health Foundation also found out that 25 percent of school-going children are currently living with one form of mental problem.

Out of this number, 10 percent of the children have at one time harbored suicidal tendencies, planned or even attempted to take their own lives as majority of them cannot speak out their problems.

According to Professor David Musyimi Ndeti who runs the foundation, the researches also found out that majority of Kenyans are living with a form of mental condition unknowingly.

“Kenya is standing at the crossroads of a stupendous health crisis which has sadly received little or no attention over the years. Mental illness is a crisis which if not addressed now will affect every facet of this country’s development agenda for years to come,” cautioned Professor Ndeti.

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The researcher, who said he has carried out extensive work on mental health over the last decade, attributed Kenya’s current situation to failure by relevant stakeholders to device mechanisms of addressing the issue.

According to Professor Ndeti, the society is yet to embrace people affected by the condition with many associating it to witchcraft or curses, a move he says has effectively isolated most of the affected.

“People need to understand that mental illnesses are a medical condition just like any other sickness. What is needed to help address the challenge is extensive advocacy and research coupled with voluntary screening to identify those already living with the complication unknowingly," advised Ndeti.

The Foundation is currently working in collaboration with Mathari National Teaching and Referral Hospital to create awareness among Kenyans on the need for early screening, intervention, referral and eventual rehabilitation of people affected by various forms of mental illnesses such as depression, schizophrenia among others.

The objective of such initiatives is to ensure such victims are assisted and even rehabilitated as well as reintegrated back into the society as useful members, according to Catherine Ngetich, a Resource Mobilization Officer.

The organization has so far managed to screen a total of 15 000 schoolchildren countrywide and helped offer treatment where needed.

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- MyNews24

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