Africa-Press – Kenya. The harsh economic times coupled with low salaries are to blame for the rise in mental health cases among civil servants, Public Service PS Amos Gathecha has said.
It has emerged that the number of government officers in need of counselling has doubled, with uniformed officers being the most affected.
This came as the government announced plans to hire more counsellors for all government ministries to stem the rising cases of depression among the civil servants.
PS Gathecha said absenteeism by government officers was on the rise and this has affected service delivery.
He attributed this to depression and use of alcohol adding that the number of civil servants in need of counselling had risen from 5,000 to 13,000 in the last one year.
“The harsh economic times coupled by low wages and rising demands within family circles has led to the mental health crisis with some of the officers turning to alcoholism,” he said.
Gathecha said uniformed officers are the most affected, with the National Police Service and the Prisons department leading in the number of depressed officers.
He said plans were at an advanced stage to hire more counsellors for all the government ministries with the uniformed officers among those set to benefit.
The PS was addressing the press at Lake Naivasha Resort after opening a two-day workshop for public service counsellors drawn from different ministries in the government.
The PS said the government was implementing various preventive and promotive measures to boost mental health and wellbeing of public servants.
“Mental health challenges affect productivity within the public service and according to the Kenya Mental Health Investment Case, our country lost Sh62.2 billion due to mental health conditions,” he said.
Gathecha said in the last financial year, the government provided psychoeducation support to more than 12,500 civil servants.
A director in the department, Grace Wanjiku, admitted that mental health was a challenge within government ministries, hence the need for urgent action.
She said out of the 22 ministries in the government only seven had counsellors despite the rising demand for counselling services.
“The government has operationalised the counselling and psychologist board and we are asking all certified counsellors to register with it,” she said.