8:42:00 AM

Over the past week, I have been in and out mental health meetings, staying up late on one or two occasions trying to understand the mental health bill which is in draft form and see if it represents my rights as a person with a mental illness and those of my fellow PMIs. The current Act of Law is an outdated or non-operational ACT, the 'infamous' CAP 248

The draft Bill which we comprehensively went through on Monday had many happy hours in it and I shared some my twitter account (@runway254) and for those who missed them, I will share here.

The Bill, dubbed Mental Health Care Bill 2012 is a guide on how persons with mental health should be treated looking at key areas; Prevention (the fore front of our mental health campaign - One mind lend your voice, Treatment & Care (basically how to handle persons with mental illnesses which has been really lacking in our country as highlighted by the CNN feature) and last but not least rehabilitation ( what happens when I am not on my off days, am I do miss out on daily life because you all fear?)

Mental health rights are human rights and this bill borrowed from the new Constitution, statutes that Kenya is a signatory including the UNCRPD(United Nations Convection of Rights of Persons w/ Disability).

I will not get all preachy on you but here were points I just had to share on the draft Bill,
1. Roles and Responsibilities of Care givers
Care givers are the people who take care of persons with mental illnesses. They are the mothers who have to tie there children on trees, they are the nurses and doctors in Mathari Hospital. Should they live disturbed and do desperate things just to see another day. It is a collective effort, we need mental health care down to the primary level which now is the county level all the way to the grass roots. Awareness creation is also very important, Ignorance is not always bliss. We are looking to work with even more groups in all parts of the country to make sure the mental health manual is everyone secondary bible...there is no health w/o mental health.

In my 'In know things' poem, the one that starts with Bob Marley's Emancipate your self I say...I know governance that represents the grass roots but has no idea how the root of the grass looks. Question those seeking office what there agenda for  persons with mental illness is.

Something else we are also on the look out for is the way the Electoral Commission will take care of persons with mental illness in the whole process this being an election year.

The care givers need to know they are dealing with human beings regardless of their mental well being. They are humans before anything and they need to eat, live and dress like any other and be treated with respect and dignity.

2. Administration and care of property of someone with a mental illness. We all remember the Kirima saga, God rest his soul in peace. We watched a soap of sorts all in the name of wealth and calls of 'insanity' even by his own children, to what end? The mental health Bill looks at this and gives directions on the same. So everyone out there doing their thing, keep at it and do not feel down and get lazy because some people will come eat where they did not sow...Amen!!!

3. Article 22 talks about the conditions of mental health facilities. The CNN feature told of a person who had died in the ward and the body lay beside the other patients as they slept(all on the floor). This goes back to human rights, because PMIs are not in control of their faculties for a few does not mean they are not to be treated with dignity. They are not animals, hell I know animals that live better than the rest of us but we are not asking for carry me in the bag chihauhau, basic human rights...if you were to pimp Mathari, what would you do?

4. Insurance companies....I need not say more, I have very bad experience but no bad blood.

5.Article 37 was on the restraint and seclusion, who, what, why and how? That was a real debate. Should there be home seclusion? I heard tales of people locked in facilities for upto 40 years, the CNN title really captures that, locked up and forgotten.Their families would rather forget them than face the society...SERIOUSLY!!! that's where rehabilitation comes in, that's where awareness creation and advocacy takes route, question is, beside reading this post, what are you doing for persons with mental illnesses. We also sited the recently featured story of the lady in Huruma who locked her daughter for 10 years in the back room to prevent her from being violent or raped.

There are many more happy hours in the Bill and we also are still DEMANDING for a mental health policy.

We also touched on the alarming suicide cases in the country and will be incorporating groups that deal with suicide in our one mind lend your voice campaign because there is an interrelation. In my personal opinion, the thing is not really about what school system we have but what our society brands as important. I was not really a clever chap in primary, I failed my KCPE to be sincere but there was more to life. I was good with people and that feeling that I can do something for someone who needed help that's been my backbone. I literally pulled up my socks in form 3 and thats how I got to Actuarial School but we all know how that story ended, but look at me now. As a society we need to alter our priorities, lets take time and inhale, the world has more to give and live for. I know this for true for I have been on both sides. Check your priorities, check what you are passing on to the children...

We are also looking at having a media breakfast just to take reporters on the terms to use that do not promote stigma amongst the citizens, objective reporting and help in the campaign...we do not have to wait for someone in power to come forth and say they have a mental illness for it to be a 'sexy' subject as my pal Clara puts it. I am sexy and I will still campaign for the rights of persons in mental illnesses, if that person in power comes, they will find us working.

Lend your voice to our campaign and the work we are doing by sharing this post with some and making noise about the Bill and also help demand for a policy in all your networks.


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  1. Hi Sitawa. You are for sure a passionate mental health ambassador. This is extremely enlighting and clearly indicates why we should all be players and not spectators. We are all candidates because, at a point in life, we face confusion, stress, depression, forgetfulness(dimentia) and deep lonely thoughts that may lead to hopelessness. We should all petition for the enactment of the the draft legislations into law. This will greatly ensure that all people with mental disorders are recognized, respected and their human rights respected. Keep it great lady!

  2. Excellently written - passionate, clear, concise and proactive! Very welcome to send me something to put on our website about this. I will tweet you my details. Well done again! Charlotte