People with disabilities comprise an estimated 15 percent of the global population, and are at increased risk of adverse mental health impacts – including threats to their rights to the highest attainable standard of health, food, water, sanitation, and an adequate standard of living. Yet, for many, government support has been utterly lacking so far Meaningful consultation of children with disabilities is essential for governments to adequately prepare for the worst effects of mental health and protect their rights. The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and united nation convention on rights of children stipulates on matters protection and safety.
As disability sausage media we opine The current mental health Crisis in Kenya coupled with the Covid attachment is a Human Rights Crisis
Will the heads roll at High school for the Blind Thika or it will be just normalcy?
Never the less, Ten years ago, CNN premiered ‘Locked up and forgotten’, a documentary that took us behind the gates of Mathari hospital, Kenya’s largest psychiatric facility. We were taken on a journey where we witnessed the plight of patients as they were locked down using chains, and abandoned in dark chambers after being dumped by their relatives, far away from the preying eyes within their communities. Many of these patients left to their own devices, were sexually abused by fellow inpatients, with some dying from injuries and from worsened health.
As Kenya reacted negatively to the CNN exposé showcasing the rot in the country’s mental health system, I felt enlightened about the debilitating and disabling effects on the affected individuals and their families. It is at this point Salvation army high school for the visually impaired Thika rings a bell.
On Thursday 11 November 2021 a form 2 student committed suicide.
“It was in the evening during preps when a form 2 Student body was found lifeless in the abolition block”
Many speculations are ripe
The individual might have faced family or school challenges, emotional abuse, physical abuse or even sexual abuse or even
Bulling which is a common practice in most special schools in Kenya might be taking place,
Moreover, students might not be getting opportunities to vent out their frustrations and other concerns.
What should government of Kenya arrest?
Should Kenya end institutionalization of persons with disabilities?
Or the now common phrase that bodying schools should be shut down after the 22 schools raised down by fire?
We believe, government of Kenya who are the duty bearers should rise up and address this problem.
Additionally, representatives of persons with disabilities, organizations of persons with disabilities and non-state actors are high time we addressed the elephant in the room.
The future generation of persons with disabilities is at stake.
Why is the Kenyan nation silent on this issue?
Simply, its persons who are blind or visually impaired have not been prioritized on mental health issues and whenever plans or implementation are don are not either accessible or not informed.
This also means It Kenyan mental health care system and the institutional capacity is in a sorry state, incapable of providing any meaningful care. But more importantly, this shows revealed how the society knows very little about blindness and mental illnesses, their risk factors and where to seek help for their loved ones. Unfortunately for blind persons facing the mental health issues it’s a non-issue in the society. Many will not believe that persons with disabilities have these concerns.
The truth is that due to the associated stigma and discrimination deeply entrenched in our culture towards the blind and mental health problems no media or state officers have made any pronouncement.
Moreover, there is lack of data on persons with disabilities affected with mental health issues. In 2017, the CRPD Committee adopted general comment No. 5 on Article 19 on living independently and being included in the community, which clearly stated the obligation of States Parties to adopt a plan for deinstitutionalization, including the closure of current institutions and not to build new ones. Yet, without quality community services and support for parents, institutions are seen to provide better care than children with disabilities would receive at home.
Are schools becoming a breeder of individuals who want to commit suicide?
Many others in the country, on the other hand, are losing their lives to suicide at an alarming rate.
According to the Kenyan Health Ministry’s records, 483 people died by suicide in the past three months before June, marking a worrying spike on the annual average of about 317 cases. As disability sausage media we believe the numbers are likely to be much higher than the official tally because the attempt to commit suicide has been criminalized in the country.
This is basically saying that suicide attempt is stigmatized both from the community level and religious level. The general atmosphere (around the issue) is shame, punishment and fear.
According to Section 236 of the penal code, an attempt to suicide is a misdemeanor, which can lead to imprisonment of up to one year. A person who tries to take his or her own life is likely to be both fined and imprisoned --- a major obstacle keeping people with suicidal thoughts from seeking outside help.
As disability sausage media we say “Kenyans with disabilities won’t survive Mental health crises if it isn’t in the plan for us to do so. And you can’t plan without us.”
All in all, The Kenyan Ministry of Health is in the process of developing a National Suicide Prevention Strategy and Program between now and 2026 in line with the World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines. A free hotline for suicide prevention and psychological support is among the steps that the program will include.
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The views expressed here are for the author and do not represent any agency or organization.
Mugambi Paul is a public policy, diversity, inclusion and sustainability expert.
Australian Chief Minister Award winner
“excellence of making inclusion happen”