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Mental illness as a result of abusing bhang on the increase in Nakuru

Drug addiction accounts for more than 50 percent of the patients with mental illness at the Gilgil Sub-county Hospital’s Psychiatric Unit.


Nakuru County Governor, Lee Kinyanjui, said most of the mental patients admitted at the facility aged between 21 to 24 years were addicted to bhang and other form of substance abuse.


Kinyanjui expressed concern over recent studies commissioned by the national government revealing that children as young as four are already consuming hard drugs.   


Speaking when he toured the Hospital to inspect ongoing construction of the Sh50 million ultra-modern Maternity Wing, Kinyanjui noted that consequences of failing to address mental health conditions of the youth limits their opportunities to lead fulfilling lives as adults.


The Governor added, “We do not want to lose our youth to substance abuse and therefore I ask the young people to steer away from this vice.


According to a Drugs and Substance Abuse Report by the Kenyan Institute for Public Research and Analysis, which covered pupils in classes five through eight, children as young as four, are already consuming hard drugs.  


The survey shows the number of children abusing prescription drugs, alcohol, bhang and cigarettes is ballooning and some of their trusted handlers are guilty of directly introducing them to the substances.

He revealed that his Administration had started an integration program at the Psychiatric Unit, where mentally ill patients who exhibit signs of significant improvement are reunited with their families.

 “The future of every nation falls or rises on the vitality or vulnerability of its youth and Kenya is no exception.  This is why the high levels of drug addiction and trafficking among youth should worry us all,” Kinyanjui pointed out.


According to the Kenya Mental Health Policy 2015-2030 combination of mental and substance abuse disorders among children and the youth is the sixth leading cause of years lost due to ill-health, disability, or early death.

It accounts for six per cent of the total disease burden in this age-group and contributes to a quarter of disabilities in young people aged between 10 and 24 worldwide.


Kinyanjui noted that drug and substance abuse among the youth led to other related issues like class repetition and decline in academic performance and indiscipline in schools, adding that as the situation worsens, Kenyan families continue to waste millions in health care bills because of substance abuse and addiction.   


It is time to end the denial we have lived with and stamp out the stigma associated with substance abuse and addiction and commit energy and resources to confront this plague. It is a real threat that could maim and kill Kenyan youth than all wars, natural catastrophes and many others combined, noted the Governor.   

According to the World Health Organization (WHO) mental health struggles are becoming common among teens, now making up about 16 percent of diseases and injuries  for people aged between 10 and 19 years suffer, with the WHO statistics warning, from around 14 years they go undiagnosed and untreated.

 Kinyanjui said the County had started construction of a Sh250 million Center of Excellence for mental illnesses at the Gilgil Sub-county Hospital. 


The facility, touted as the first of its kind by a County Government in Kenya, will conduct screening and diagnosis for mental illness and will offer psychiatry and counselling services to patients.


 “This modern facility will also offer teaching and training facilities to psychiatry students from government’s medical training centres, public universities as well as private hospitals and universities.


It will be the second full-fledged psychiatric and mental health care facility in the country after Mathari National Teaching and Referral Hospital. We will do away with the admission of mental health patients at Nakuru Level Five Hospital, once the centre of excellence for mental health patients is launched at Gilgil Sub-county Hospital in the next few months,” the Governor indicated.

Kenyan citizens within the Rift Valley Counties of Nakuru, Bomet, Kericho, Samburu, Baringo, Nyandarua, and Laikipia will access special rates for mental health treatment and psychiatric services, while the rest of Kenyans will pay a subsidized price, the cheapest in the country.


The Governor put the cost of treating mental illness at between Sh50, 000 to Sh100, 000 with doctors’ fees pushing the cost by a further 10,000.


Mathari, Kenya’s known public mental health facility requires a down payment of Sh10, 000 before admission, but one can get express admission if he/she has the National Health Insurance Fund (NHIF) card.


“The cost of accessing treatment in private hospitals is very high owing to the fact that between Sh3000 to Sh5000 has to be paid per day every time a psychiatrist attends to a patient.


We need to bring the cost down so that many people get the proper treatment. Kenyans, who cannot afford to seek treatment, continue to suffer from the effects of mental illness. My administration is committed to ensuring that proper mental health care is not a preserve for the rich in society” stated the County boss.


The number of mental disorder cases has risen exponentially in Kenya with official data indicating that approximately 20-25 percent of outpatients seeking primary healthcare present symptoms of mental illness at any one time.


When the Ministry of Health launched the Kenya Mental Health Policy 2015-2030, it stated that one in every four Kenyans will suffer from a mental disorder in their lifetime.




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