KENYA – The State Department for Public Service is set to establish the Kenya Mental Health Action Plan for the term 2021-2025 in a bid to monitor, report and design appropriate mental health interventions mechanism that recognize the crucial role of public servants in development processes.
The mental health action plan aims to initiate measures that will enhance mental well-being of public servants such as development and rolling out of vital counselling programmes through capacity building of public servants as mental health champions in ministries, counties, departments and agencies.
The plan seeks to address the rise in mental health concerns witnessed through increase in alcohol and substance use, suicides, anxiety disorders, occupational injuries, workplace conflicts and absenteeism among public service officials leading to a decline in quality of service delivered.
The State Department for Public Service is also taking public servants through a two weeks course called Essential Counselling Skill Programme at the Kenya School of Government to equip the officials with the prerequisite, skills, knowledge and competence they require to be mental health champions.
State Department for Public Service Principal Secretary Mrs Mary Kimonye revealed that once the draft has been discussed and passed by the technical committee for implementation, several measures to enhance the mental well-being of public servants will be adhered to as guided by the action plan.
During the Stakeholders Participation on Framework for Mental Health Monitoring and Evaluation in the Public Service event held at Kenyatta International Convention Centre in Nairobi City, Principal Secretary Mrs Mary Kimonye stressed that there is an increasing concern on mental health issues globally.
Mrs Mary Kimonye highlighted that one in every 10 people is suffering from a mental disorder in Kenya, noting that the public service has 302 mental health champions who are already complementing psychological counsellors in the service.
“Public service is reviewing scope and services offered through the counselling unit and rebranding them into counselling and wellness units as well as strengthening counselling services by recruiting and deployment of more counsellors in the service,” Ms Mary outlined.
State Department for Public Service Inter-Agency Technical Committee Chairperson and Director for Counselling Services Grace Wanjiku emphasized that it is necessary for people to understand the need to address mental health to be able to prevent illnesses
Grace Wanjiku disclosed that COVID-19 worsened the mental health well-being of public servants with teachers and police officers mainly affected, noting that there was a rise in depression, stress, suicide, femicide and homicide in public service.
She encouraged the affected public servants to make good use of their National Hospital Insurance Fund cover to seek medication as early as possible while emphasizing on the need to train as many public servants as possible to complement psychological counsellors in containing the situation.