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Self-help group meeting 

Mental health in Kenya

Investment in health in Kenya largely focuses on communicable diseases especially HIV and malaria despite the impact of mental health on the population. Only a third of the 75 psychiatrists in the country for a population of 38 million work in the public sector, whilst the rest work only with private patients at a great expense. Kenya has around 500 psychiatric nurses of which only 250 work in mental health. This means that for each district there are only 1 or 2 psychiatric nurses. Therefore, integration of mental health into primary care is essential in Kenya.

Our work

We began operating in Kenya in 2005 and since then over 82,000 people with mental illness or epilepsy, their carers and family members have been through our programmes.

Our holistic mental health and development services are delivered through:

BasicNeeds Kenya

BasicNeeds Kenya began its first pilot project in Nairobi in 2005. Since then it has initiated mental health programmes in the Central, Eastern and Rift Valley Province including reaching out to specific target groups including nomadic communities, smallholder coffee farmers, and vulnerable children and young people in both rural and urban areas. BasicNeeds Kenya is actively involved in developing mental health policy and legislation to influence the development of mental health services at the national level and draws on its young advocates and user groups to inform and guide this engagement with policy makers.

Joyce“BasicNeeds Kenya is very grateful to our supporters who have made our pioneering work in mental health in Kenya remarkable and memorable. The 15,556 affected people we have reached is a small fraction in the backdrop of hundreds and thousands living in rural and urban neighbourhoods in Kenya, on the streets, chained in their homes, in schools, workplaces with no access to treatment, social and emotional support to recover and means of livelihoods to sustain them once they stabilise. Children, youth and old persons with mental health problems and those at risk require our focused attention.” Joyce Kingori, Programme Manager of BasicNeeds Kenya.

Caritas Nyeri

Caritas Kenya, a BasicNeeds social franchisee  is a NGO that strives to holistically empower vulnerable communities in Nyeri and Laikipia counties towards improved living standards in collaboration with other development partners. With funding from Grand Challenges Canada in 2015, Caritas Nyeri  completed training on the BasicNeeds Model and to date have reached 248 people living with mental illness and/or epilepsy. They are mentored by BasicNeeds Kenya.

“Mental illness like any other illness is a condition that can be salvaged through medication, psychosocial support and improvement of livelihoods of the clients and their carers. Caritas Nyeri desires to do everything possible through this franchise to help the client re-establish a completely normal life like any other human being. We are all keen to learn a lot through this partnership so that Caritas Nyeri will acquire the capacity to lead in the area of mental illness advocacy within Kenya and beyond.” Rev. Fr. Boniface Mwangi, Director of Caritas Nyeri.

Recent projects:

Reducing the poverty of Kenyan pastoralist nomads, stabilised from mental illness through sustainable livelihoods

This project aims to improve the lives of Kenyan pastoralist nomads (women, men and children) who have mental illness and epilepsy and their family members in Kajiado county. It achieves this through facilitating access to community mental health services, and creating access to income generating activities such as poultry, dairy goat and rabbit farming, bead jewellery making and tie-dyeing shawls. These livelihood activities improve food security, nutritional status and overall household poverty as well as contributing to the de-stigmatisation of mental illness in the community.

Mental health work with young people in Kenya

The broad objective of BasicNeeds Kenya’s work with young people is to enable young people and children with mental illnesses or epilepsy to work, go to school, and live successfully in their communities. BasicNeeds Kenya’s youth work, started in 2010, aims to create opportunities for young people with or at increased risk of developing mental health disorders, to strengthen their social and emotional resilience as well as giving them skills to deal with their own problems and help others.  Our youth network run vibrant social media and self-advocacy programmes.

Our impact to date

As of June 2016, 82,583 people including those affected by mental illnesses, their carers and family members have been supported through our programmes in Kenya.

Contact information

BasicNeeds Kenya
Mai Mahiu Road,
Hse 21,
Nairobi West,
P.O Box 14590-00100

Tel No.: + 254 20 2426606/725 814928

Caritas Nyeri

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