A study has found that most GoK employees are stressed over family instability, financial difficulties, stagnation at work and by HIV.

A report that emerged last week from a mental health focus group discussion has revealed that one in every four civil servants is abusing drugs or is constantly hooked to other addictive substances.

The baseline survey conducted by the government indicates that 19.4 per cent of those affected are stressed, 14.9 per cent of them are besieged by family instability and 9.5 per cent harassed by financial difficulties.

The report also found out that 7.6 per cent were distressed because they have stagnated in one job grade for many years, 4.6 per cent are worried sick about their HIV/Aids conditions and one per cent from terminal illnesses.

According to the Star newspaper, all these were revealed during a focus group discussion on mental health between the mental health task force and major employers in Kenya in Nairobi last week.

Mental Health task force members Halima Mwanesi, Frank Njenga and Lukoye Atwoli address the press outside All Saints Cathedral in Nairobi on January 29, 2020

The Star states that it emerged that the psychological wellness index among Kenyan workers in the civil service stands at 39 per cent, which is relatively low.

‘To mitigate the scenario, the state department for public service has developed a curriculum on psychological counselling for human resource officers and line managers,” Grace Wanjiku said.

Wanjiku is the acting director of psychological counselling at the State Department of Public service.

The training, which will offer basic skills in psychological counselling, will start this month.

The Public Service Commission has also introduced counselling as a first line of discipline measures for errant staff members. We were given 80 days so we don’t have too many days left. The intention is that we will have finished writing and we will present the report to government underlining the urgency of the matter by February 28.

Frank Njenga Mental Health task force member.

The taskforce, led by Frank Njenga, concluded its public hearings last week, and has retreated to write a report of the findings. The report is expected to be presented to the President by February 28, which will later be debated by the Cabinet.

Perhaps sensing an opportunity for business, insurers are circling.

‘Mental health is an area that the population has chosen to ignore to the extent that we don’t have statistics. In insurance we deal with statistics. We need to have the numbers to know what we are dealing with,’ Benjamin Masai from the Insurance Regulatory Authority told the task force.

Insurers want suicide decriminalized so as to offer a suitable cover for Kenyans affected with mental illness.

‘Suicide is criminalised in law. That should be changed because we can’t cover what is illegal.’

The Star reports that the taskforce was meeting various players to look into issues related to mental health at workplace, insurance in mental healthcare financing and media partnerships.

‘The task force will receive and compile the views of Kenyans on all matters mental health. The likely hood is the task force will be making recommendations embedding the views of Kenyans in all matters to do with healthcare delivery,’ Njenga added.

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