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Gov’t training officers in mental health management

The Government has started training of a new cohort of workplace mental health champions, who will be helping colleagues cope with mental health challenges.

The 120 officers from both the mainstream civil service, and semi-autonomous government agencies will join another 300 who had been trained earlier in the programme that will see 2000 officers trained.

Ministry of Public Service, Gender, Senior Citizens Affairs and Special Programmes CAS Ms. Rachel Shebesh, while officially opening the training at the Kenya School of Government this morning said the champions’ role would be to create awareness of mental health issues in their workplaces, counselling those in need of help, and referring those that may be in need of further treatment to the right institutions.

She said one of the biggest challenges is to remove the stigma, people associate with mental health issues and which deterred people and their family members from seeking medical care as required.

She said that it was important that the wider society realizes that, one in five people suffer from one mental condition or another, and that these conditions were manageable by the right health professionals and at the right facilities.

Shebesh added that as a part of the programme, they had lobbied the Council of Governors to establish psychiatric units in all level five hospitals in order to enhance mental health care access.

She said the programme was ordered by President Uhuru Kenyatta, after incidents in which some officers, particularly in the Ministry of Interior resorted to extreme measures when they had problems with colleagues and family members.

She said as part of the programme, they were working to destigmatize mental illnesses and had even lobbied the National Health Insurance Fund (NHIF) to cover drugs required by psychiatric patients.

She urged civil servants who may be suffering in silence, not to be ashamed of seeking help, saying that the bigger shame is in cases that go unattended because of stigma.

By Steve Gatheru

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