The Mental Health Policy provides for a framework on interventions for securing mental health in Kenya. Mental health is a major determinant for the overall health and societal well being. The reality of mental illness and disorders across the country and the plight of persons suffering from mental illness cannot be ignored. The policy was developed as a result of increased demand for mental health services and evidence based interventions. The government recognizes that the health of the people is a national priority and that it has the responsibility of ensuring that mental health forms part of the national and local agenda.
The policy seeks to reform mental health system in Kenya in order to address the systemic challenges, emerging trends and mitigate the burden of mental disorders. The policy also seeks to overhaul the Mental Health Act, Cap 248, which is the main legal framework for mental health. The policy is anchored on other related policy and legal reforms that have set the national direction in the health sector. Key among them are the Constitution of Kenya, the Kenya Vision 2030 and the Kenya Health Policy (2012-2030). In addition, the policy borrows from international evidence based best practices.
The Mental Health Policy is a national commitment to pursuing policy measures and strategies to achieving optimal health status and capacity of each individual. This policy recognizes that the goal of realizing mental health is the responsibility of every person and every sector whether public or private. The policy acknowledges that-
o The government has the responsibility to take care of persons with mental illness and promote mental health in the country
o No person with a mental illness or disorder in Kenya should live without care and support;
o Rights based approach to mental health interventions promotes equity;
o A comprehensive and multi-dimensional approach to mental health interventions is fundamental;
o People must be at the center of mental health system;
o People with mental disorders have the capability of living productively within their communities.
Whereas mental health policy interventions are broad and cutting across diverse sector, the mental health policy is primarily a health policy. Consequently, the focus and emphasis is on health policy interventions. However, as noted later in the policy directions, other policies with mental health implications will be reviewed in order to ensure that they promote metal health and protect, respect and fulfill the rights of persons with mental disorders.