Partnership with Fundació Nous Cims improves student mental health in Kenyan Universities

Students campaigning against mental health stigma in Kenyan Universities

Poor rates of mental health in Kenyan university students are blighting the lives of many students, but a project launched this year is helping to tackle stigma and improve access to support.

Research in Kenyan government universities has identified high levels of depression and anxiety among students, especially the many students from poor backgrounds. Mental health conditions can and do cause students to leave higher education, meaning they aren’t able to reach their potential.

A two-year CBM programme with BasicNeeds Kenya, in collaboration with Fundació Nous Cims, is supporting Kenyan students at Chuka and Kenyatta Universities living with mental health conditions.

  • Over 100 university staff have been trained to recognise the symptoms of poor mental health, provide appropriate support and refer students to services to improve their mental wellbeing. These might include group sessions or substance misuse services – as alcohol and substance abuse have been identified as a key challenge for students.
  • Indoor and outdoor “safe spaces” have been created, where trained peer counsellors supervise support sessions. These spaces are all accessible to people with disabilities.
  • Anti-stigma campaigns are helping to raise awareness of mental health conditions amongst students, using brochures, social media, regular theatre performances and University radio. Leaflets have been produced on a wide range of issues from sexual health to anxiety, while a popular social media campaign #Not_Okay_Is_Okay uses videos and messages from prominent University figures.

As the programme gathers momentum, both staff and students are gaining a better understanding of mental health issues, while students are accessing the support they need and looking forward to a brighter future.

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