The Ministry of Health has launched the Kenya Mental Health Action Plan (2021-2025) to promote mental health among citizens.

MoH Chief Administrative Secretary, Dr. Mercy Mwangangi said the Action Plan provides a framework for the national, county governments and other key stakeholders. The framework aims to implement policies that promote the mental and psychological well-being of citizens.

“Through the plan, mental health and psychosocial support will be integrated into the emergency and humanitarian response especially in the response to COVID-19 pandemic as well as the long-term recovery strategy,” said Dr. Mercy.

The plan also seeks to decentralize mental health services and programs to primary health care at the community level as well as promote stigma reduction and preventive programs. Additionally, the plan targets to enroll all persons with mental health conditions in the National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF). The Fund will cover the out-patient costs, in-patient costs, treatment, and substance use rehabilitation costs and provide an essential health benefits package for comprehensive mental health services.

The Action plan also seeks to establish a commission for mental health and happiness, as well as an establishment of the directorate of mental health and substance use at the Ministry of Health.

According to the Ministry of Health, the COVID-19 pandemic has caused enormous significant health, socio-economic and psychological impacts on the population, hence mental health and psychosocial support strategies and measures. MoH, through a mental health task force that was formed in 2019 indicates that Kenya has a high burden of mental illness due to ill health, psychosocial disability, and premature mortality with huge gaps in access to care.

The task force estimates that one in every 10 people suffers from a common mental disorder and the number increases to one in every four people among patients attending routine outpatient services.