The County Government of Busia plans to establish at least two mental health units in each of its seven Sub-counties.
The County Deputy Governor, Arthur Odera, while speaking Saturday during a forum to mark the international suicide prevention day at Amerikwai Primary School in Teso South Sub County, said that the county leadership is committed to improving the entire health sector.
'We know that a healthy population is a productive population, which will bring the next generation to take this county forward,' he said.
Odera, who doubles as the CEC Member for Health, added that the Department also plans to increase the number of staff within the mental health sector so that residents can access the services even at the grassroots level.
'Right now we only have psychiatrist nurses and counselling psychologists,' he said, adding that the county leadership will employ a psychiatrist who will establish the unit at the County Referral hospital.
The deputy governor further expressed the county's willingness to work closely with the relevant non-governmental organisations to ensure that stigma connected to mental health issues is alleviated.
'We will work with you to spread the message of mental health across this county,' said Odera.
Erick Wandera, a psychologist from Friendly Innovative Development Solutions (FIDS), noted that men were more susceptible to committing suicide than women.
Wandera noted that according to the WHO, suicide is ranked third among the major causes of death among youth aged 15 to 19.
Javan Olocho, in charge of the mental health department at the Busia County Referral Hospital, said that the facility recorded 54 cases of suicide last year.
'We managed to handle the cases successfully, but unfortunately we lost seven lives,' he said, adding that 80 suicide cases have been reported at the facility from January to August this year, with nine of them leading to death at the county referral hospital alone.
Olocho further stated that reports from Sub County hospitals have not been established due to a shortage of staff to serve there.
Rose Wandaki, the Director of FIDS, however, stated that the organisation has come up with empowerment programmes to support women in the community so as to reduce gender-based violence, which is seen as a major cause of mental health challenges.
'We have done women's empowerment sensitization so that they can be independent and be able to help the men in providing for the home, and this has reduced the number of cases of gender-based violence,' she said.
According to the World Health Organisation report, at least 800,000 suicide incidences have been reported per year, which means that every 40 minutes, one person commits suicide.
Source: Kenya News Agency