Government should train more Psychiatrists to handle mental health cases, Taskforce told

There is need for government to train more Psychiatrists and Community Health Volunteers to tackle matters mental health in the country.

Dr.Lilian Nyagaya from Kenya Universities’ Professional Counselors Association says the move will help address the challenges the society is facing when it comes to addressing mental health issues.

Speaking in Nakuru town on Thursday during a meeting of the National Mental Health Task Force to collect public views on the state of mental health in the country, Dr.Nyagaya was categorical that there was need for practical solutions.

According to the professional Counselor, mental health is key in development agenda and focus should be put on recovery, Promotion and preventive strategy as well as ensuring access and healthcare support.

“There is need for government to train more Psychiatrists and Community Health Volunteers to tackle matters mental health. As a country we also need to support individuals at all stages of recovery focusing more beyond symptom management” she said.

Dr.Nyagaya also citing early detection of mental health conditions and advocacy from grassroot level to address the stigma around mental health as key in the management of the condition.

While lauding the government for the Mental Health Policy that is already in place, the counselor told the National Mental Health Task Force that a lot need to be done to address the issue of quacks and ensure professionalism.

“There is already Mental Health Policy in place. We need now to ensure professionalism and wipe out quacks” she said.

Similar sentiments echoed by Nakuru based Psychiatrist Dr.Njau Waigi stating that the Psychiatric unit at Nakuru Level 5 hospital with bed capacity of 24 should be expanded to help handle more cases.The Psychiatric also decrying the few staff in the government set up.

According to KEMRI survey of 2017, alcohol and drug abuse in families have led to mental health conditions leading to societal problems.

For this reason, Dr.Njau told the National Mental Health Task Force that there was need for Sensitization at family, Community county and country level to avert cases of mental health.He added that drugs and substance abuse among youths should be addressed through dealing with the suppliers.

“There is need for more sensitization through media, civil society groups and support groups on matters mental health. We need more government sponsored rehabs” he said.

Meanwhile the Kenya National Union of Nurses Nakuru chapter told the National Mental Health Task Force there was need for psychiatric nurses to be given power and put in all health committees from county to National level.

Kenya National Union of Nurses Nakuru chapter James Maina says this will ensure they put their input when matters mental health being discussed.

He added that in order to motivate the nurses working on matters mental health, scholarships should be availed to them as well as to doctors.

Sentiments echoed by Ms Jane Josiah from MIDRIFT Human Rights Network-an NGO working towards prevention of urban violence and matters mental health.

She told the taskforce that more effort should be put on creating awareness, Treatment and management, Demystifying the myths and facts, mental health illnesses and distinguishing them from the other illnesses and Universal Healthcare should also cater for the mental healthcare conditions.

The taskforce was appointed by the government to collect views on the current status of mental health in the country and commenced public hearing sessions from January 13.

The taskforce was inaugurated on December 11 last year by the then Health Cabinet Secretary Sicily Kariuki.Already the taskforce chaired by Dr. Frank Njenga has had sessions in Meru, Makueni and Uasin Gishu Counties.

On Friday, the team is expected in Kakamega before moving to Kisumu, Nyeri and Garissa respectively.The taskforce will then head to Mombasa County on January 23 before winding up their first round of public hearing sessions at Kenyatta International Conventional Centre on January 27.

However, those wishing to submit their handwritten memoranda to the taskforce must hand over their documents to the Ministry of Health headquarters at Afya House in Nairobi through postal address or by email to mentalhealthtaskforce1@gmail.com.

PHOTO/Pristone Mambili:Nakuru residents during a public hearing session in a meeting convened by National Mental Health taskforce.