Mount Kenya University (MKU) has launched a new program to tackle mental health issues among its students and youth in society. The fully-fledged programme aims to get to the root of mental health challenges blamed for a worrying surge in reported cases of violence, criminality and bizarre incidents involving young people.
The project will be led by MKU co-founder and board member Dr. Jane Nyutu who recently graduated with a doctorate in Counselling Psychology. In a statement, MKU asserted that issues of mental health could no longer be swept under the rug.
The institution cited a number of shocking stories that have grabbed headlines in recent days – including the stabbing of two teachers by a high school student in Kisii, the attempted slashing of a Deputy Principal by a student in Nyamira, and the murder of four family members in Kiambu by a 23-year old IT student.
Lawrence Simon Warunge, a student at MKU, confessed to the Kiambu family murders claiming he had been inspired by a television series. “It is clear that our young people are not okay, actually have not been in a long time and we can’t continue to sit down and watch anymore,” the university’s statement read in part.
Describing the incident involving one of its students as unfortunate, MKU noted that it was committed to making necessary changes in line with their vision of delivering world-class education, research and innovation for global transformation and sustainable development.
The jolting news reports have fueled debate on the state of mental health among learners in Kenya, with questions raised including how the education system, structures and institutions contribute to mental health problems.
Some of the disorders among school going children are believed to be extensions of attachment disorders. If left untreated, attachment disorders can affect individuals for a lifetime. Treatment includes attachment-based therapy that encompasses some fairly new approaches as explained in this article https://www.betterhelp.com/advice/therapy/attachment-based-therapy-evidence-based-practices/ .
Kenya has a high burden of mental illness due to ill health, psychosocial disability and premature mortality with huge gaps in access to care such as therapists. The rising number of mental health related cases in Kenya – including depression, anxiety and other mental illnesses – has been a major concern to stakeholders and the government.
A 2016 research showed that a quarter of the Kenyans suffers from some form of mental illnesses which is not taken seriously and are more often discriminated against.
MKU founder Prof Simon Gicharu expressed confidence that the newly established mental health project would have a positive impact not only on MKU students but society in general. “I know that I have a partner (Dr. Jane Nyutu) who understands the youth, the education system and MKU’s vision better.
“I trust the PhD will give her more resolve to make the institution a better place and help students tackle this emerging giant of mental health issues,” he noted.