Health Ministry to Recruit Psychologists, Train 60,000 Health Workers on Psychological First Aid

July 2, 2020

A recent study by Infotrak revealed that majority of Kenyans are worried and extremely affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Conducted between March 30 and April 24, the study titled “Overview of the Infotrak Coronavirus/Covid-19 Poll” showed that 82 percent of Kenyans are feeling anxious and stressed about the crisis as it unfolds.

A little over a week ago, Health CS Mutahi Kagwe noted that Covid-19 had affected Kenyans’ lives, and particularly their mental health “in ways untold.”

He also described depression as “a silent, invisible killer that is affecting our nation and the globe.”

With mental health concerns growing with each passing day, the Health Ministry has revealed its plan to deal with the ‘silent killer’ at the community level.

MoH Director-General Patrick Amoth on Wednesday said the ministry is planning to train 60,000 community health workers on psychological first aid.

The Ministry is also set to recruit psychologists to public service for the first time in Kenya’s history.

“We are further recruiting 134 psychologists, a cadre which was previously not in public service,” he said.

Dr Amoth said the Ministry is already mapping out mental health resources in all the 47 counties.

“Since psychological first aid can be delivered by any trained healthcare worker, we are broadening our trainings to tap into other cadres. The ministry is also collaborating with counties to set up county mental health teams,” he said.

At the same time, the DG offered some tips on how to deal with anxiety during these uncertain times. These include avoiding negative coping mechanisms such as alcohol and substance abuse, gambling and other high-risk behaviors.

He said these should instead be replaced with positive coping mechanisms such as having quality time with loved ones and close friends.

“There is need to let go of what one cannot control in order to avoid pressure, which may lead to depression and anxiety. Adjusting expectations is a key component of promoting mental healthcare. Communication remains a key part of mental healthcare,” Amoth said.

“This means people should constantly be in touch with families and friends and those that have a positive influence on them. Everyone needs positive energy during this pandemic.”

Dr Amoth further urged Kenyans to observe self-care tips such as good sleep patterns, good dietary habits, new hobbies, and avoid news that cause anxiety.

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