Mental health experts call on industry stakeholders to tackle inequalities in order to improve mental health in the country.
The director of mental health at the Ministry of Health, Dr Simon Njuguna, called on Kenyans to adopt an active lifestyle, saying it helps reduce stress and social ills such as domestic violence.
He noted that currently one in four Kenyan lives a sedentary lifestyle.
âIt has been proven by science that physical activity improves physical well-being. We must create an active society. A sedentary life makes people unhealthy, âsaid Dr Njuguna.
He was speaking during a cycling event at Mathari Hospital in Nairobi, organized to mark World Mental Health Day to be celebrated on October 10, 2021. The event dubbed âMental Health Tourâ is part of the activities that have been taking place since World Suicide Prevention Day on September 10 to promote mental well-being.
He said cycling was chosen for the event because it represents physical activity which is one of the ways to promote mental health and prevent mental illness.
Depression is one of the most prevalent mental illnesses in the country, with half of people who go to general hospitals for some reason suffer from the illness.
Professor Lukoye Atwoli, president of the Mathari National Teaching and Referral Hospital, noted that many Kenyans struggle with mental illnesses and ignore their mental state.
âThe truth is that inequality fuels poor mental health. People with mental illness in an uneven world tend to be in the lower ranks of society. They have less access to all services, including mental health services, âhe said.
“We are highlighting this so that the world and governments can think about ensuring that even the poorest of the poor have access to mental health services,” he added.
He said investing in mental health was an interesting activity, noting that every shilling invested in mental health brings in five to seven shillings in productivity.
The 18-kilometer non-competitive cycling event brought together more than 150 runners of different ages, including children, and aimed to raise awareness of mental health in the country.
In 2019, President Uhuru Kenyatta recognized mental illness as a crisis in the country and formed a mental health task force that recommended the renovation of Mathari Hospital, among other recommendations.
âWe have a plan to ensure that Mathari will be the most important teaching and referral hospital in the country. But there will be six or seven other establishments across the country offering the same level of service, âProfessor Atwoli said.
The 2021 theme for Mental Health Day which will be marked on October 10, 2021 is âMental Health in an Unequal Worldâ.