COUNTY GOVERNMENT OF NYERI
P.O. BOX 1112-10100
Telephone 061 2030700
Fax No. 0612030537
OFFICE OF THE COUNTY EXECUTIVE SECRETARY SPECIAL PROGRAMMES,
YOUTH AND SPORTS
SPEECH BY HON. LUCY WANYITU, COUNTY EXECUTIVE SECRETARY, SPECIAL PROGRAMME, YOUTH AND SPORTS DURING WORLD MENTAL HEALTH DAY ON 10TH OCTOBER, 2016
The distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen and all protocol observed I would like to welcome you once again and express my utmost appreciation to Users and Survivors of Psychiatry in Kenya (USP-K) for inviting me to grace this event to celebrate the World Mental Health Day 2016 in Nyeri County and also the National Council for Persons With Disabilities (NCPWD) who have supported USP-K with a grant to create awareness on the human rights of persons with mental/psychosocial disabilities and also improve their livelihoods in seven counties in Kenya.
The organization through the support of the Open Society Foundation has been involved in the following key activities towards advancing the rights of persons with mental disabilities:-
- The establishment of 8 peer support groups (consisting of both persons with mental disabilities and their caregivers) in four counties namely Kiambu, Nakuru, Nairobi and in Nyeri County.
- Ensuring that persons with mental disabilities are registered as persons with disabilities as envisioned in the Persons with Disabilities Act 2003. This has enabled them to access various benefits including education support, waiver of market and hospital fees, education bursaries from the CDF, economic empowerment grants and greater inclusion as part of the disability movement at both the National and County levels.
- The organization has been involved in numerous public awareness campaigns to raise awareness on issues affecting persons with mental disabilities.
- We have also been working with the County Government in all the four counties named above on access to justice and building the capacity of service providers to ensure that services are delivered within a human rights framework.
- USPKenya has also been involved in legislative reforms specifically in the recently enacted Legal Aid Act, Persons with Disabilities bill 2016, The National Disability Policy, The National Action Plan on Accessibility and Disability rights, The Mental Health Care Bill 2015, and the Social Protection Bill 2016 which seeks to consolidate the social protection framework in Kenya.
- As part of our international obligation, the organization submitted a report to the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disability in Geneva both independent and in collaboration with United Disabled Persons of Kenya. This influenced the concluding observations of the Committee key among this an appeal to the Kenya Government to develop a wide range of community-based services that respond to the needs of persons with disabilities and respect the person’s autonomy, choices, dignity and privacy, including peer support and other alternatives to the medical model of mental health.
The World Mental Health Day is celebrated every year on 10th October and the World Health Organization (WHO) recognizes this as an opportunity to raise “awareness on mental health issues around the world and mobilizing efforts in support of delivery of mental health services and alternatives within the community”.
I would like to recognize the efforts of both the National and County Governments in their efforts to ensure that mental health services are mainstreamed within the general health system and are accessible within the communities.
The government commitment is underpinned by the recent efforts to review the Mental Health Act of 1989 to align it with the Constitution of Kenya, Convention on the Rights of Persons With Disabilities (CRPD) and the recently launched Mental Health Policy. This commitment needs also to be accompanied by an increase in the budgetary allocation for mental health services within the community, full inclusion and participation of persons with mental disabilities in both policy and programs development, delivery and a comprehensive framework that ensures these services are delivered within a human rights framework.
Thousands of people with mental health conditions in Kenya are deprived of their human rights. They are not only discriminated against stigmatization and marginalization but are also subject to emotional and physical abuse in both mental health facilities and in the community. Poor quality care due to a lack of qualified health professionals and dilapidated facilities leads to further violation.
The theme for this year’s World Mental Health Day, is “Dignity in mental health psychological and mental first aid for all”. This presents an opportunity to raise awareness of what can be done to ensure that persons with mental disabilities can continue to live with dignity, by respecting their human rights as envisioned in the Constitution of Kenya, the Convention on the Rights of Persons With Disabilities (CRPD) and all other domestic policy frameworks.
The domestic legislative frame work needs to respect the inherent dimity of persons with mental disabilities: respect their legal capacity including the right to free and informed consent to treatment, inclusion in decision-making processes, and public information campaigns.
In a our context, there is a need to ensure that when crisis events occur part of the humanitarian response is appropriate and timely mental health support including psychological first aid. But of course, crisis events are not just limited to the events we see on the news. Every day, and all around us, people often experience personal crises, from potentially losing a loved one, going through a stressful situation at work, or experiencing a serious physical illness.
There are also people who sadly experience abuse and/or violence, all of which increase stress and the likelihood of developing mental health problems. We need to be conscious of the need to provide the right support when people experience the stress of traumatic events, both in the Kenyan context and on an individual level.
The principle of first aid is that all or any of us may need to step in to help when someone needs it, and to help them to see if they need professional help. All of us may need to build our confidence to do this with the people we are close to, our family, friends and colleagues.
As we celebrate the World Mental Health Day I will like to recognize all the good efforts from both government and civil society in ensuring respect for human rights, access to services and inclusion in the community of persons with mental disabilities. I would also like to urge both the National and County governments to prioritize mental health both within their policy and budgetary frameworks.
This can be realized by:-
- Developing legal frameworks that respects their humans rights
- Adequate budgetary allocations for community based mental health services and alternatives
- Full and effective participation in all spheres of society on an equal basis with others
- Building the capacity of all services providers to ensure that services are delivered effectively within a human rights framework
- As families and communities we need to respect the inherent dignity of persons with mental disabilities as part of human diversity.
Once again I would like to thank everyone for taking their time to participate in this great event and wish you well in your endeavors.