Community health workers attending mental health training in Bungoma County, Kenya. ©BasicNeedsBasicRightsKenya

Providing mental health support in Kenya during COVID-19

COVID-19 restrictions have had a devastating effect on many people’s mental wellbeing in Kenya, as in so many parts of the world, leading to an increased need for psychosocial support services.

Changes in normal routines, loss of income and decreased access to services and support structures have led to widespread stress and anxiety. People who are isolating because of the virus, or those coming from an area with many cases, have also faced stigma, further damaging their mental health. Kenya’s frontline workers have expressed concerns over the increased number of health workers contracting COVID-19 and resulting fatalities in the course of patient care. This has largely been blamed on substandard or lack of PPEs for health workers. They are also concerned about spreading the infection in their households.

From 2020-2021, CBM and Basic Needs Basic Rights Kenya provided mental health support for health workers and people affected by Coronavirus, including:

  • Providing psychological support to around 100 front line workers and patients in testing, isolation and quarantine centres
  • Providing protective equipment such as sanitizers and face masks for psychologists and counsellors
  • Enabling mental health outreach services to provide support in people’s homes and at health facilities by providing logistical and communication support
  • Addressing the stigma associated with COVID-19 via weekly community radio shows featuring health workers and people with lived experience
  • Distributing mental health and wellbeing information at isolation and quarantine centres as well as mental health clinics
  • Developing inclusive and accessible information about COVID-19, such as easy-to-read formats, to help people protect themselves from the virus.

This project was launched in October 2020, when COVID-19 cases were steadily rising in Kenya.


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