Mental Health in Kenya

Mental Health in Kenya: Addressing the Crisis and Building a Thriving Nation Together

Mental Health in Kenya is a critical issue that affects people of all ages, genders, and backgrounds. According to a report by the World Health Organization (WHO) in 2014, Kenya ranks fourth in Africa with 1.9 million people suffering from depression. The Kenyan National Commission of Human Rights estimates that 25% and 40% of outpatients and inpatients respectively suffer from mental health conditions

The most frequent diagnoses of mental illnesses that are made in general hospital settings are depression, substance abuse, stress, and anxiety disorders. The domino effect of this is an increased number of suicides, including school-going children and people murdering loved ones; although not all numbers have been attributed to mental health disorders or depression, a good number have been confirmed to result from this.


Interventions like the Kenya Mental Health Policy (2015 – 2030) seek to address systemic shortcomings and emerging trends. The policy aims at ensuring “access to comprehensive, integrated and high quality, promotive, preventive, curative and rehabilitative mental health care services at all levels of healthcare and strengthen mental health systems, especially from the community level”
Despite the availability of mental health policies and the country’s focus on addressing the gaps, Kenya still has an inadequate number of mental health professionals. Medical professionals in Kenya are not well equipped to recognize the signs and symptoms of mental health problems, let alone deal with their own mental health. To improve the situation, we need an open mind, a curious mind, and most importantly, multidisciplinary collaboration.
Mental Health in Kenya
Here are some ways you can #BePartofTheDifference:
  1. Investing: Compared to physical health, people are reluctant to invest in mental health. Because of this, only a percentage of people get the help they need. Adequate investment will ensure that early intervention and preventive care are available.
  2. Safe spaces: Encourage discussions on mental health that address stigma, discrimination, and how to seek help.
  3. Habits: Some lifestyles are detrimental to mental health; improving eating habits and engaging in physical activities can be a start to better living.

Well-being programs and treatments will not address the underlying factors of mental health. Mental health is a lifelong journey. It is necessary to conduct public awareness campaigns on the illness, prevention, management, and treatment. These campaigns provide an avenue for demystifying stigma and influencing policy to address the situation.


As a community to improve results, comprehensive systems of support and services will need to be redesigned by creating new and drastically different models of care and support that have the potential to reverse the distressing effects of mental health and enable people and communities to thrive. Let us work together towards building a thriving nation where everyone has access to quality mental health care.