PDO Kenya Pamoja Initiative
A social innovation that bridges the gap in mental health treatment and care
Over 450 million people suffer from a mental or behavioural disorder. WHO’s Global Burden of Disease 2001 indicate that 33% of the Years Lived with Disability (YLD) are due to neuropsychiatric disorders.
Unipolar depressive disorders alone lead to 12.15% of years lived with disability, and rank as the third leading contributor to the global burden of diseases. Four of the six leading causes of years lived with disability are due to neuropsychiatric disorders.
In Kenya, studies show that 10.8% of Kenyans have a mental illness at any point in time. However, the government invests 0.01% of the health expenditure on mental health and has only 62 government psychiatrists serving 47 m Kenyans (WHO 2017).
Consequently, mental health services remain practically inaccessible to most Kenyans particularly those who deserve it most – the poor and socially excluded groups.
Pamoja Initiative is born
Due to this systemic neglect, people living with mental illness and psychologists in Nakuru to came together to help bridge the gap. We developed the Pamoja Initiative (Swahili for 'we are one'), a social innovation that bridges the gap in mental health treatment and care at the grassroots.
The innovation provides a platform for psychologists and people with lived mental health experiences to volunteer their time to help our community overcome the biggest barrier to treatment – access (cost and distance).
How it works
Our innovation is three-pronged: advocacy, free treatment and social support. The innovation is grounded on volunteerism that thrives on the altruistic nature of human beings. We have two categories of volunteers:
This social innovation targets the poor and socially excluded groups in our community who are left out by mainstream actors. Our beneficiaries are largely drawn from people living in slums, vulnerable adolescents, PLWHIV, prisoners, drug users, sex workers, GBV survivors, survivors of Solai disasters.
HIV and GBV
HIV and GBV is a cause and effect of mental health problems. The rising cases of GBV and HIV among the poor and socially excluded groups have resulted in a rise in cases mental health problems among them depression, anxiety, traumatic stress symptoms and substance abuse.
Due to the growing demand for psychological support from people living with HIV among our beneficiaries, Pamoja Initiative last year started a dedicated HIV psychosocial support program run by PDO member who has lived with the virus for 21 years.