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The World Mental Health Day: Make Mental Health and Well-being for all a Global Priority

By William Omondi & Sarah Nyakio

From January to October 2022, IMLU documented 10 cases of police suicides and two cases where they killed their spouses before killing themselves.

October 10, 2022, marks the celebration of World Mental Health Day. State and non-state actors are subsequently preparing to gather and commemorate this day. As the adage goes, time is the best healer. The caprices of the Covid-19 pandemic are gradually ebbing away from our public spaces. People continue to piece up their lives as they count diverse forms of losses that were occasioned by the pandemic. Humanity is healing from the loss of close friends and relatives as well as their sources of livelihood. While time is the best healer, experience is the best teacher from whom we learn not to forget the ramifications of our past. 

We have sojourned through a wilderness in which Covid-19 contributed to SGBV, police brutality, peer-to-peer violence and the general abuse of children. Hence, celebrating World Mental Health Day restores our wisdom of hindsight. In the first year of the pandemic, the World Health Organization (WHO) estimated the rise of depressive disorders and anxiety at 25 per cent across the globe. Statistics from the WHO equally demonstrate that one in eight people globally lives with a mental disorder. Hence, about 84 million people live with daily stressors and long-term mental disorders globally. The above situation is complicated by the dearth of skills, data and research, services and funds available for mental health in middle and low-income countries. Emerging issues such as climate change, armed conflict and forced migration also strike the very heart of communities. They consequently interfere with community mental health and psychosocial support systems.  Kenya’s Mental Health Policy notes that cases of mental disorders are on the rise. Effective provision of mental health is therefore hindered by the absence of mental health from the public health agenda and the need to fund such programs, humble organization, inadequate human resources and inactive leadership.

The report by the Task Force on Mental of 2020 noted that most Kenyans have negative views about mental illness. This attitude leads to a low focus on the benefits of mental health and well-being. Families and societies are overburdened by an increase in cases of depression, suicide and substance abuse. Similar challenges are manifest among members of the key and special populations including the youth, the elderly, prisoners, disciplined forces, children, sex workers and the LGBTQ. The groups face stigma and discrimination, physical harm and social exclusion that cause them trauma and other forms of psychological disturbance. 

Henceforth, World Mental Health provides us with the opportunity for collective action in increasing awareness of preventive measures and existing interventions in mental health. We must increase our commitment to deliver on mental health as individuals, communities and governments to enable access to affordable and quality services. A society that values mental health and well-being respects human rights. As the thematic slogan for this year’s World Mental Health Day goes; Making Mental Health & Well-being for All a Global Priority is our duty.