Mental health is not often directly linked to climate change. In Kenya climate change effects are among things associated with the rising depression, suicide, post-traumatic stress disorder, and substance use disorders
But let’s be honest, temperatures are rising, floods, droughts, heatwaves, bush fires, rising sea levels are getting real and affecting real people. Their livelihoods and day-to-day quality of life is adversely affected. Not to mention the Covid-19 pandemics and high cost of living which adds on to the economy and mental effects.
Last year, the Kenya National Mental Health Task Force recommended to the government to declare mental health an emergency in Kenya. The task force report identified climate change and its effects among things associated with the rising depression, suicide, post-traumatic stress disorder, and substance use disorders in Kenya.
The task force found out that one in every two Kenyans suffers from a mental health condition. It also indicated that at least 25 percent of outpatients and 40percent of inpatients in different health facilities had mental illnesses at the time of the study. The Centre for Disease Control and prevention ranks mental health and substance abuse as number five among the leading causes of death in Kenya.
But despite the high numbers, Kenya has only 71 psychiatrists serving a population of nearly 50million people. A majority are in private practice, according to the Kenya Health Workforce report. Currently, 75percent of Kenyans cannot access mental health care, according to the task force.
The episode is part of the mental health and climate change series, made possible by a grant from the International Women’s Media Foundation’s Howard G. Buffett Fund for Women Journalists.