Let's Eliminate Stigma Associated With Mental Illness, President Kenyatta Says

President Uhuru Kenyatta has emphasized the need for concerted efforts to eliminate the stigma associated with mental illness by actively supporting those in mental distress.

The President said those facing mental health challenges deserve to be helped instead of being discriminated against, pointing out that mental illness is a disease like others.

"…let us eliminate the stigma around mental health by actively supporting those in mental distress through offering a helping hand and an understanding shoulder to lean on," President Kenyatta said.

The Head of State spoke on Tuesday evening when he presided over the groundbreaking ceremony for constructing the ultra-modern Kenya International Mental Wellness hospital in Ngong, Kajiado County.

"As I lay the foundation stone for this seminal facility, I urge every Kenyan suffering from mental health challenges to seek assistance from the expanding network of facilities and services. Let therapy and mental health check-ups be a regular part of our health care just as regular check-ups are the norm for physical health," the President said.

President Kenyata said when fully operational, the hospital will work closely with other regional and global centres of excellence to ensure Kenyans and the people in the region receive the highest standards of mental health services.

"It is important to underscore that the management of this hospital will ensure that all those seeking services here access quality mental health care services in an environment that promotes recovery with dignity and respect.

"Indeed, it is expected to bring a paradigm shift in the existing negative narratives and attitudes associated with mental illness. It is only right that people freely seek mental health services without fear or shame, and this facility will provide that environment," the President said.

As a research facility, President Kenyatta said the hospital will collaborate with universities and other research institutions worldwide to conduct research on mental health conditions to improve evidence-based care that will inform the necessary policy shift in mental health care.

To ensure access to affordable quality mental health care, President Kenyatta said the National Health Insurance Fund benefit package will include mental health care services.

He called on other stakeholders to join the Government in scaling up investment in mental health care.

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