Caritas Nyeri Mental Health Programme was established in 2008 after field experiences showed that people with mental disorders was a marginalized group faced with myriad challenges with the ministry of health, mental health unit being the only player with limited capacity to extend their services beyond provision of health services at level 4 and 5 of the health system. The program worked with Basic needs UK in Kenya for the first 3years and later got funding from Open society Initiatives for Eastern Africa. This project aimed and still aim at strengthening and building the capacity of people living with mental illness and those who care for them both in Nyeri and Laikipia Counties. The programmes help these people by advocating for their rights and welfare at all levels.

Project Goal
Promote initiatives in prevention, rehabilitation and integration in mental health in Nyeri and Laikipia Counties by 2017.

To strengthen community capacities in Nyeri and Laikipia counties support post curative rehabilitation and reintegration of 5,000 people with mental disorders in Nyeri and Laikipia by 2017.

Key Result Area
Increased awareness and dignified living.
  1. Awareness creation.
  2. Participating in lobbying and advocacy for the provision and accessibility to mental health services at primary health care level.
  3. Participating in lobbying and advocacy for the enactment of mental health care bill.
  4. Mobilizing persons with mental disorders and their carers to form psychosocial support groups.
  5. Exploring in partnership with Consolata Hospital the possibility of establishing a mental health rehabilitation centre within Archdiocese of Nyeri.
  6. Skills development and facilitation for social-economic initiatives.
  7. Organizing forums for sensitizing communities about mental health issues, signs and symptoms, causes and care.
  8. Strengthening linkages with GOK and other actor’s e.g. Nacada in mental health programmes.
  9. Facilitating training for staff in mental health programmes in mental health care.
  10. Mobilizing for provision of psychotropic drugs and mental health services from potential donors.
  11. Offering support in cases of human rights violations against people living with mental illnesses.
  12. Documentation of stories of change.
  13. Organizing group exchange forums.
  14. Training community health volunteers.
  15. Production and dissemination of IEC materials on mental health.
  16. Marking of World Mental Health Day.
  1. A lot of public awareness creation campaigns have been carried out on mental health, mental illness, facts about mental illness and the needs and rights of PWMDs. Through this a number of community members and carers are able to identify those who have signs and symptoms of mental illness among them and to support them appropriately.
    The Programme has managed to lobby the ministry of health through the relevant District medical officers of health towards provision of mental health services in 28 primary health care facilities hence making mental health service accessible and affordable at the primary health facilities. These facilities are Kimanju, Ewaso, Doldol, Gakawa, Kiamathaga, Warazo, Njokini, Karaba, Thangathi, Ichamara, Bellevue, Karemenu, Mugunda, Kabati, Endarasha, Amboni, Kahuru, Kalalu, Matanya, Witima, Ihururu, Wadumbi, Ngobit, Gititu, Gichira, Kiandere, Gatina, Kahuru and Wimuso.
  2. 55 psychosocial support groups with approximately 1,750 PWMDs and their careers have been formed. By coming together PWMDs and their carers have a platform where they can consolidate their voices in advocating for their rights and general well fare at different levels.
  3. 28 needy carers of PWMDs have been economically empowered to be able to take care of their PWMDs. This support was in form of first and foremost specialized training to give the cares a reason to hope as they undertake the enormous task of taking care of their PWMDs. After this the carers were given each some funds to start an IGA.
  4. 23 PWMDs have been economically empowered to start IGAs in order to improve on their livelihoods. First the PWMDs were trained on positive living skills to enable them accept themselves as they cope with their health condition and move on with life like other people.
  5. 5 PWMDs whose human rights have been violated in one way or another have been supported morally and financially in their pursuit for justice.
  6. 50 support groups have been economically empowerment to start different income generating activities. This has been done by imparting groups with organizational and managerial skills alongside development of other skills.
  7. A total of 46 community health volunteers (CHVs) have been trained and facilitated on monthly basis with a token to enable them mobilize PWMDs and their carers to seek mental health services as well as to mobilize them to participate actively in their psychosocial support groups.
  8. Strong working partnerships and networks with ministry of health and other likeminded players has been built with the aim of ensuring first and fore most PWMDs have access to mental health services at the primary health care services and their general welfare is improved.
  1. Discriminative health care system, characterized by lack of qualified psychiatric personnel, lack of medicine, and inadequate patient support structures.
  2. Stigmatization and discrimination that to a large extent lead to exclusions hindering PWMDs to realize their full potential and living a dignified life.
  3. Disablement by the disorders rendering them unproductive and consequently wholly dependent on their carers and well wishers.
  4. Socio-cultural health interpretation of mental disorders that often delay treatment and early care seeking.
  5. Escalating poverty among PWMDs and their carers emanating from inability   to constructively manage themselves, time and resources at their disposal.
  6. Poor infrastructure especially in Laikipia making mental health services inaccessible and unaffordable to many deserving cases.
  7. The mental health program has no project vehicle of its own forcing the program to depend on the vehicles of the organization and sometimes using public service vehicle. This sometimes inconveniences the person visiting the groups and also causing time wastage.



  1. Charles Wachira Kahiga

    Charles Wachira kahiga was born in Nyeri district Kihuyo village to two parents who later moved to kieni. The mum passed on in the year 1997. He is educated and went to school up to standard 8.He got married and had a girl by the name of Grace Warukira who is currently studying at Karatina University.

    Despite his normal upbringing and growing up being mentally sound, Charles became mentally ill in 1998. At that time he was working as a cook in a hotel at Nanyuki town and therefore came back to Kihuyo where it became worse.

    “Njiragwo ndari hakuhi kuraga mutumia na kahiu muthenya umwe, akiura agithii kuri aciari ake Nanyuki.’’

    He says things got so bad that he almost killed his wife and that was the reason she left Home.
    After that incident was when he was admitted to Nyeri provincial general hospital ward 10 for about one month. He had felt better and started working at Nyeri green oak hotel as a cook. However in the year 2002 he had a relapse after failing to follow up his medication. It became so bad that he was admitted to the Nyeri provincial general hospital ward 10 again only this time round he stayed there for around 4 years.

    In 2009  he was released having been declared of sound mind and left for Nairobi to search for job opportunities and was lucky enough to work at blue springs hotel  for nine months and unfortunately once again  he fell ill and was taken to mathari psychiatric hospital in Nairobi where he spent the remaining part of the year.

    Not having anyone pick him up from hospital after getting better, he was released and  went back home to Kihuyo in 2011 after a long period of being unemployed. Once again due to lack of funds to buy psychotropic drugs he became mentally ill until he was brought to caritas by his sister after mobilization activities that had been carried out in Kihuyo by caritas mental health programme coordinator Helen. He has been in caritas since 2012 to date working as a casual labourer where he gets paid three hundred shillings a day.

    He now observes the daily doses of medication and has been mentally fit. He lives in Kihuyo village with his brother Christopher Matu. According to him the reasons for his many relapses is because all those times he had no job to pay for his prescription of psychotropic drugs.

  2. Ann Wangari Kingori

    This is the story of a teacher who was interdicted on medical grounds. Ann Wangari was born in Kabati Endarasha in 1962 and developed mental illness at a very tender age. Ann was brought up with a lot of challenges since her childhood, her father use to quarrel and fight her mother and use to take alcohol and comes home very late. This affected the children especially Ann who got much stressed and could not concentrate on her studies well. She performed fairly in secondary school. Having no hope of proceeding with her education she decided to look for a spouse and start a family in the hope that the man would pay for her college fee. Things moved very first that she got pregnant in her courtship and was forced to give in for the man. When she told the man that she was pregnant, the man asked her to carry an abortion which Ann refused and pleaded with the man to marry her. The man took her inn but half heartedly. Ann confesses that they lived together but was humiliated and beaten more often. She later joined Kaimosi teachers college and did a profession in teaching. She got a job and was employed by the Teachers service commission. Ann conceived her second time and was given a maternity leave to go and deliver her second child. She developed chronic stress which led to depression after delivering her second child. Her husband could not understand the condition of Ann and sometimes could torture her in the name of saying that Ann was pretending. Ann was taken to Level 5 hospital (Nyeri provincial hospital where she was admitted and became a regular patient diagnosed with a mental disorder (Schizoaffective/Bipolar). She was later divorced by her husband and left her matrimonial home to start a new life. Ann bought a piece of land and built herself a house. She has lived for 15years alone and has being under medication for the last 30 years.

    It was during one of the group visit at Kabati mental health group that Caritas mental health programme got the information of Ann that a mentally ill teacher had being interdicted on medical ground and had nobody to advocate for her rights. Our programme followed the case and found out that it was true. This took place on26/11/2013.

    Ann had been teaching at Ndunyuguathi primary school when she was interdicted. Caritas took up the case and hired lawyer to look up into the case and allow justice to prevail. This happened in this year 2014.The programme has being offering her emotional and psychological support to date. Through the help of this program, Ann case was solved and has being reinstated back to her work. The programme advocated for her transfer to be moved near her home and Ann was posted to Kinyaiti primary school in Kieni west district near her home. She was paid her dues and has gone back to work. She resumed her duties and is very grateful to Caritas mental health programme for supporting her and walking with her all through.

Charles before treatment

Charles before treatment

Rehabilitated Charles working at Caritas

Rehabilitated Charles working at Caritas