By Collins Mokua (Columbia University)

View Collins’ research poster here.


Christine Musyimi, PhD, Africa Mental Health Research and Training Foundation;

Kathleen Pike, PhD, Director, Global Mental Health WHO Collaborating Centre at Columbia University;

Research Question:

What systems are in place to address the mental health needs of the Kenyan population?


Majority of Kenyans live in rural areas yet majority of health facilities are in urban areas. Use of health care services is inequitable as hospital services are increasingly pro-rich. As a consequence, poor and disadvantaged communities suffer more from common mental disorders and their consequences.


A desk review using Google Scholar, CLIO, and JSTOR to identify potential articles, papers and government documents. Identified sources were narrowed down by reading the abstract and selecting the most relevant and applicable for inclusion.


There exists a severe shortage of mental health facilities and health professionals. Public psychiatric patients are attended by the 600-bed Mathari psychiatric hospital also in Nairobi and seven provincial and six district hospitals with about 20 beds each across the country. Prevalence of depressive disorders is 4.4% and Anxiety disorders at 3.1% and these attributed to 8.3% and 2.9% of total YLD respectively. Yet, mental health only accounts for less than 1% of the health budget.


There are strong competing priorities such as infectious disease, malnutrition, unsafe drinking water, malaria, and increasing rates of chronic diseases. Focus on psychosis has caused signs of depression of anxiety to not be recognized as mental illness. Non-profit organizations are the most promising stakeholders making moves to improve mental health.

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