Increase funds for mental hospitals, senators tell State

Thursday, August 12th, 2021 00:00 |
Mathari Mental Hospital. Photo/Courtesy

Senators have called on the government to adequately fund facilities for the mentally deprived and upscale treatment of patients in the wake of increased suicide cases.

The lawmakers also want National Treasury to set aside budgetary allocation to enable each county referral hospital to have a dedicated wing to deal with mental cases.

Legislators also called for training of more psychiatrics and counsellors to offer guidance and counselling services to mental patients.

This, they argue, will complement Mathari National Teaching and Referral Hospital, the only facility on mental illness, which they claim is neglected and starved of resources.

“It is run like a prison where you dump the most unwanted criminals and leave them there.

It is never looked after, it does not get a good budget and it has never been upgraded at all,” Bungoma Senator Moses Wetangula said.

“Mathari Hospital looks like a place where you only take people you do not need in the society,” he added, saying any person is a potential candidate for mental health.

Nandi Senator Samson Cherargei opined that some of the facilities for the metrally deprived in the country despite being scarce, are heavily underfunded.

“We expect the Ministry of Health to increase allocation to Mathari and Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital among other mental health facilities in future,” Cherargei said, adding that suicide and depression are part of mental health problems.

Tharaka Nithi Senator Prof Kithure Kindiki said suicide is slowly but surely snowballing to a national calamity that if remains unchecked will go out hand.

National calamity

“This matter is affecting families and now you will find cases where an entire household is wiped out because those who perpetrate the murders end up killing themselves,” Kindiki said.

Kindiki pointed an accusing finger at the hard economic times facing the country, which has been exacerbated   by Covid-19 pandemic for rise in suicide cases.

He, however, said suicide is being accelerated by the rampant abuse of drugs and substances among children, especially teenagers.

“Recent reports have shown that a big number of children are abusing drugs and cytotropic substances.

If we are not careful, we will lose a whole generation of young people who would have taken this country to the next level,” he said.

Nominated Senator Gertrude Musuruve asked the government to investigate causes of suicide, saying there is need to see how we can prevent suicide in various categories.

For example, Senator Musuruve said schools should seek mentors and counselling centres to help students.

Nominated Senator Mary Seneta said Kenyans need to relook at our cultural fabric and encourage social being.

Kitui Senator Enock Wambua said one of the biggest triggers of suicide is the sudden loss of livelihoods occasioned by Covid.

“It is true that on account of this pandemic, businesses have closed down. People in their hundreds of thousands have lost jobs,” said Wambua, adding that people are unable to feed their families.

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