Kenya’s Mentally Ill Locked Up And Forgotten

Thomas Matoke


Most of what I publish has to do with the topic of mental health here in the United States.  This is a very sobering story of conditions in Kenya for the mentally ill.  I’m sure this is true throughout the world.   Allan

Taken from CNN which is located   HERE.

Editor’s note: Across Kenya, millions of mentally disabled people are hidden away: locked up and forgotten, often by families who can’t get them proper treatment. Watch “World’s Untold Stories” on Saturday and Sunday.

Nairobi, Kenya (CNN) — The tin shack looks like any other in a patch of small plots on the dusty outskirts of Nairobi. It’s the haunting sound that grabs you, the awful moaning and cries coming from within.

It’s Thomas Matoke’s home. But it’s more like a cell. Matoke, 33, is tied to a steel bedframe with a piece of blue rope. He’s surrounded by pools of his urine, his mattress soiled and ripped to shreds.

His moans are interrupted when he chews his hand or the bedframe. He can’t speak to tell his mother what he wants or feels. He’s alone in his world of screams and agony.

He’s been like this for 30 years.

Matoke got ill when he was a toddler and lost much of his high-level functioning. So his mother ties him up to prevent him from running away or hurting himself.

Countless trips to doctors and hospitals haven’t helped him. And poverty means there isn’t much medical help his family can afford.

“His siblings ask whether we wronged God, because we are really suffering,” said his mom, Milkah Moraa. “I can’t even hang his clothes outside because of the stink. The neighbors complain.”

Shunned by the community, Moraa does what little she can to ease his agony. Her life is consumed by trying to take care of her sick son.

But Matoke is not alone.

There are an estimated 3 million, mostly poor, Kenyans living with intellectual and mental disabilities, according to NGO and United Nations figures.

As part of a special investigation, CNN found that families are struggling to cope with their loved ones, receiving little help from the state and facing massive stigma from society.

CNN’s team filmed families locking up their loved ones, children discarded by institutions, cases of suspected sexual abuse. Kenya faces an epidemic of neglect.

“It is such a huge problem,” said Edah Maina, head of the Kenya Society for the Mentally Handicapped. “If somebody would understand the extent it is huge, then I think someone can begin to act.”

But often, Maina and her charity are the only ones acting. Scores of cases of neglect and abuse flood their office every day: autistic children chained in chicken coops, epileptic adults sealed in filthy shacks, daughters raped by their fathers. They are overwhelmed.

Dr. Frank Njenga, president of the African Association of Psychiatrists and a leading expert in the field, believes the scale is “catastrophic.”

“We as a people have perfected the system of hiding our friends, relatives and other loved ones who have intellectual disability away from sight,” Njenga said. “Out of sight, out of mind, no funding, neglected completely.”

He says that the greatest neglect comes from the Kenyan government.

How teenager Kennedy survives

The Kenyan government spends less than 1% of its health budget on mental health, though its own figures show that one-quarter of all patients going to hospitals or clinics complain of mental health issues.

And the Health and Medical Services ministries have been plagued by a series of corruption scandals in recent years.

More than $3 billion in public money was stolen in 2009, according to the Kenyan Ministry of Finance. This could have funded the entire ministry responsible for mental health — for 10 years.

The minister of medical services, Anyang Nyong’o, says mental health is a high priority, but it needs more funding from his central government.

“It is definitely starved of resources, and that is not because we want to intentionally starve mental health; that is because the resource base as we have for running health services is very narrow,” he said.

“The policy is very clear,” Njenga said. “Mental health services are a priority in this country. The practice is also clear. They are not.”

Whatever the cause, it is ordinary Kenyan families who suffer. And often, it’s mothers who toil alone. Thomas Matoke’s father has been absent for most of the past 30 years. Moraa says Matoke’s condition pushed him out.

“For how long will I carry this burden?” she asked. “Since I got married, I have not had joy the way other people have joy. I have tried to encourage myself and think ‘God help me, because I have carried this burden for a long time.’ ”

They have been chased away from village after village by angry, fearful neighbors. And soon, she fears, they will have to move away from this place as well.

Links to the Kenyan issues

When the weather is good, she takes Thomas from his makeshift cell and ties him to an acacia tree outside. If she lets him go, he runs off. What she most wants is a place where he can get proper care.

But she says there is little chance of that happening.

Mentally Ill Increasing Strain On United States Prison System

Taken from BBC news which is located   HERE.

The county jail in Virginia Beach granted the BBC access to report on the difficulties of dealing with mentally ill inmates

Treating mental illness is always a challenge, but in the US, after decades of declining funding for mental health care, the burden is increasingly falling on the prison system. The BBC was granted access to a local jail in the state of Virginia to see first-hand how staff and inmates are coping.

In Virginia Beach, a city on America’s east coast, 260 of the roughly 1,400 inmates in the county jail are being treated for mental illnesses.

The local sheriff, Ken Stolle, told the BBC that most weeks, he has more inmates in his jail suffering from mental illnesses than the state’s system has beds.

That leaves Mr Stolle feeling as though he’s in charge of the default mental institution for the area.

“Most sheriffs that I know feel like this is a problem that needs to be addressed by the state and that we shouldn’t be the provider of last resort. That’s what we feel like we are right now, ” he says.


How it happened

In the 1960s after shocking tales of filthy, abusive mental asylums surfaced, well-intentioned government officials decided patients should be freed and treated in a small, community settings

The process was called “deinstitutionalization”. Many state mental hospitals where shut down; the number of available beds dramatically reduced.

But financially-squeezed local authorities were ill-equipped to handle the change. Mental healthcare became all but impossible to access.

Many former patients ended up homeless, stigmatized and in poverty. And, throughout the country, many ended up in jail, mostly for minor offences like trespassing or indecent exposure.

“If the system fails to catch these people in a safety net, they end up in the jails.”

The jail has its fair share of rowdy, unruly criminals. But it’s the mentally ill inmates who Mr Stolle loses sleep over.

“Ninety percent of my assaults on deputies last year were committed by mentally ill inmates,” Mr Stolle told the BBC.

“I’ve got a problem there in the security and the safety for my deputies.”

Some inmates have thrown excrement and urine at staff, others rush the doors when they are opened, injuring staff in the process.

But Mr Stolle also worries about the harm these inmates do to themselves. The jail’s small medical centre sees a shocking array of conditions.

One of the nurses, Nancy Brulet, told the BBC she’s treated people who have tried to hang themselves and who have cut or otherwise harmed themselves.

Recently, Ms Brulet saw one man who had bitten a chunk of flesh out of his arm.

“He was very sad and very depressed,” she said. “He went to the mental hospital for a while. He got medicated and he’s back and he’s doing much better.”

Being sent to a mental hospital is a relatively rare occurrence, not just because of the lack of beds.

Isolation and restraints

Under US law, it’s very difficult for the mentally ill to be sent to hospitals without their consent. When sick people needing medical help commit crimes, judges can really only sentence them to jail time rather than hospitals.

Restraining chair One troubled inmate was strapped to a restraining chair for 17 days

The jails are mostly overcrowded, under-funded and unprepared to provide the sort of care those perpetrators need to get well, and to prevent them from re-offending.

Amid budget constraints, the Virginia Beach jail has a psychiatrist visit for just 12 hours each week.

In the absence of medical professionals, the jail’s methods of coping are far from ideal.

If the mentally ill inmates become suicidal or agitated, it is mostly up to the guards – who have received basic crisis training – to talk them down.

If offenders are violently aggressive, they can be strapped to crude restraining chairs, sometimes for days or weeks at a time.

The longest staff can recall an inmate being put in a restraining chair is 17 days.

If they are deemed a danger to themselves or others, the inmates are placed in tiny medical isolation cells.

These concrete cells are dank and hot, with blacked out windows and thin mattresses on the floor. Inmates are stripped of their clothes and given paper gowns so they have no materials they can use to hang themselves.

Some troubled inmates spend their entire stay in medical isolation. One inmate in the Virginia Beach jail has been walking in circles in his cell for weeks, leaving a noticeable trail of dead skin cells on the rough concrete floor.

“In my opinion, it’s not a good area for somebody with mental health issues,” Mr Stolle says of the isolation cells.

“I think we make the problems worse, but under the resources that we have, this is the only option.”

Mr Stolle allowed us to speak with one mentally ill inmate who had been put in an isolation cell after assaulting a guard. To protect his identity, we will call him William.

William, whose hands and feet were shackled during the interview, has been suffering with mental illness over 10 years. He was bed-ridden for a period and has been in and out of jail for crimes stemming from his delusions.

He told the BBC that if he had been in isolation for any longer he “wouldn’t have made it”.

“There’s no therapeutic benefit at all, in any way shape or form to those units,” he said.

‘Not a hospital’

Captain Victoria Thomson Ms Thomson says that many mentally ill inmates are in and out of jail

It’s no surprise William feels that way. The isolation cells are being used to house sick people now, but they were never intended for therapeutic purposes. They were built to handle criminals.

Carol Hepburn, a social worker at the jail, thinks they’re coping as well as they can.

“We are limited. This is not a treatment facility, this is a correctional facility, so there is no parallel between us and a hospital,” Ms Hepburn says.

The problems at the Virginia Beach jail aren’t unique. Sheriff Stolle says his counterparts across the country are all struggling with the same problems.

The Commanding Officer of Corrections, Victoria Thomson, likened the jail to a revolving door, saying that in her 19 years there she has seen the same mentally ill offenders over and over.

Many don’t understand what they’ve done or why they are there.

At least while they’re inside his jail the sheriff can ensure they’re being fed, clothed, and are taking the right medications.

But he has no control over their care when they leave. They just walk out of the front door, some without homes, families or doctors to go to.

Many offend again because they’ve stopped taking their medications.

Both Ms Thomson and Mr Stolle say improved access to mental health services in the community and follow up care to help ex-prisoners stay on their meds and out of jail would help with repeat offenders.

But until appropriate care is available on the outside, the sheriff and his staff will have to keep catching those who fall through the cracks.

My Grace Is Sufficient For Thee: Streams In The Desert, February 27th, 2011

“My grace is sufficient for thee” 2 Corinthians 12:9

The other evening I was riding home after a heavy day’s work. I felt very wearied, and sore depressed, when swiftly, and suddenly as a lightning flash, that text came to me, “My grace is sufficient for thee.” I reached home and looked it up in the original, and at last it came to me in this way, “MY grace is sufficient for thee”; and I said, “I should think it is, Lord,” and burst out laughing. I never fully understood what the holy laughter of Abraham was until then. It seemed to make unbelief so absurd. It was as though some little fish, being very thirsty, was troubled about drinking the river dry, and Father Thames said, “Drink away, little fish, my stream is sufficient for thee.” Or, it seemed after the seven years of plenty, a mouse feared it might die of famine; and Joseph might say, “Cheer up, little mouse, my granaries are sufficient for thee.” Again, I imagined a man away up yonder, in a lofty mountain, saying to himself, “I breathe so many cubic feet of air every year, I fear I shall exhaust the oxygen in the atmosphere,” but the earth might say, “Breathe away, O man, and fill the lungs ever, my atmosphere is sufficient for thee.” Oh, brethren, be great believers! Little faith will bring your souls to Heaven, but great faith will bring Heaven to your souls. –C. H. Spurgeon

His grace is great enough to meet the great things
The crashing waves that overwhelm the soul,
The roaring winds that leave us stunned and breathless,
The sudden storm beyond our life’s control.

His grace is great enough to meet the small things
The little pin-prick troubles that annoy,
The insect worries, buzzing and persistent,
The squeaking wheels that grate upon our joy.
–Annie Johnson Flint

There is always a large balance to our credit in the bank of Heaven waiting for our exercise of faith in drawing it. Draw heavily upon His resources.

Praise & Worship, February 26th, 2011

Song List

1.  It’s Going To Be All Right-  Sara Groves

2.  Days Of Elijah-  Robin Mark

3.  River Of Jordan-  Ricky Skaggs

4.  Arise-  Third Day

5.  Heart Of Worship-  Vineyard

6.  Give Me Your Eyes-  Brandon Heath

7.  What Love Really Means-  JJ Heller

8.  This Is The Stuff-  Francesca Battistelli

9.  Redemption-  Kristene Meuller

10.  Most Of All-  Glenn Kaiser

11.  Abba Father-  Vineyard

Prayer Requests & Praise Reports, February 25th, 2011

Psalm 33:1  Rejoice in Jehovah, O ye righteous: Praise is comely for the upright.
Psalm 33:2  Give thanks unto Jehovah with the harp: Sing praises unto him with the psaltery of ten strings.
Psalm 33:3  Sing unto him a new song; Play skilfully with a loud noise.
Psalm 33:4  For the word of Jehovah is right; And all his work is done in faithfulness.
Psalm 33:5  He loveth righteousness and justice: The earth is full of the lovingkindness of Jehovah.
Psalm 33:6  By the word of Jehovah were the heavens made, And all the host of them by the breath of his mouth.
Psalm 33:7  He gathereth the waters of the sea together as a heap: He layeth up the deeps in store-houses.
Psalm 33:8  Let all the earth fear Jehovah: Let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him.
Psalm 33:9  For he spake, and it was done; He commanded, and it stood fast.
Psalm 33:10  Jehovah bringeth the counsel of the nations to nought; He maketh the thoughts of the peoples to be of no effect.
Psalm 33:11  The counsel of Jehovah standeth fast for ever, The thoughts of his heart to all generations.
Psalm 33:12  Blessed is the nation whose God is Jehovah, The people whom he hath chosen for his own inheritance.
Psalm 33:13  Jehovah looketh from heaven; He beholdeth all the sons of men;
Psalm 33:14  From the place of his habitation he looketh forth Upon all the inhabitants of the earth,
Psalm 33:15  He that fashioneth the hearts of them all, That considereth all their works.
Psalm 33:16  There is no king saved by the multitude of a host: A mighty man is not delivered by great strength.
Psalm 33:17  A horse is a vain thing for safety; Neither doth he deliver any by his great power.
Psalm 33:18  Behold, the eye of Jehovah is upon them that fear him, Upon them that hope in his lovingkindness;
Psalm 33:19  To deliver their soul from death, And to keep them alive in famine.
Psalm 33:20  Our soul hath waited for Jehovah: He is our help and our shield.
Psalm 33:21  For our heart shall rejoice in him, Because we have trusted in his holy name.
Psalm 33:22  Let thy lovingkindness, O Jehovah, be upon us, According as we have hoped in thee.

New Prayer Requests

Allan- My wife’s sister’s husband died unexpectedly yesterday due to complications from a fall. Please keep Mary and her two children in your prayers.

Allan- My brother’s wife LeeAnn is half way through her chemotherapy treatments for breast cancer. She seems to be tolerating it well and will begin radiation immediately upon completion of her chemo.

Nonnie–  Please pray for a man at my church. He is such a nice and gentle man, but has been on panic disorder meds for years and has now read a book that said it is lack of faith if he takes the meds. He went off of them suddenly and now it is affecting his body and he is a wreck. He was prayed for today by the elders and he reacted violently…I believe he was just panicking but he is afraid now that he is demon possessed. We have tried to assure him that he is not. My heart just breaks for him. I encouraged him to go to his dr. and see about his meds.. Please pray for this kind, gentle man.

Past Prayer Requests

Lynette–  Pls free Lynette from depression

Seth L.S.–  Pray for me and my family do good stay healthy for 2011.
And I look forward God’s will special for my startup nonprofit success.

Cyndie- I have been having SEVERE panic attacks. Yesterday, I was out in the parking lot bent over retching. I lost my job, my mentally ill mother (who refuses to take medication or get help) lives with me along with my son who has ADHD. Between my mother and my son, something gets broken in my rented apartment often. Someone is even peeling the paint off of the walls. I’m a Christian and I pray for God to help me EVERYDAY, but now I am starting to have severe panic attacks. Also, I have a slight case of OCD and God took it away years ago, but since I lost my job, it has come back again. I just needed someone to vent to. I really don’t have a comment. Just pray for me.

Terika–  I am seeking prayer for me. I need a job, career, or an idea. I have two sons who’s father passed away and I am finding it extremely difficult to find work. It is one of the toughest valleys I have ever been in. I want to be able to take care of my family.

Captain Kevin–  Been going through a lot of pain and depression lately. So much want to exercise and get rid of these extra 40 pounds I’ve put on in the last 2 years, spend time studying scripture and improving my vocal and keyboard abilities, but I just can’t seem to get started. Sleep is my favorite pastime lately, but I don’t really want it to be.

Shaun Sells- Hi E – Thought I would give you a quick update. The group has slowly shrunk over the summer, last time we met there were only 5 of us. We are trying to regroup and refocus. Looking for good ideas and praying for someone else to lead it so the group can meet more than once a month.

Allan–  A woman e-mailed me tonight asking for prayer. She is struggling with depression and suicidal thoughts. She will be seeing someone tomorrow to apply for emergency Medicaid. She has been without insurance for two years. Please pray for her.

Set Free–  I appreciate that you still have our request for a building. Some opportunities have been presented to us but nothing yet. We did move out from our previous location but we are trusting and believing God for a place of our own hopefully before the year is out.

Mom–  Thank you for keeping my request on your prayer list. Our son is doing better and is now able to work and is hoping to return to school next semester.

He’s been through different combinations of medications and we are hopeful that the current combinations will work for him in the long term.

He is still discouraged and is beating himself up for disenrolling from school. We try to encourage him, but he doesn’t receive it.. We are praying that God would allow him to live a rewarding life and that he see God’s hand in all this the last 5 months. Thank you for your continued prayers.

Allan–  Dorci has had surgery to remove a cyst from her spine.  Please pray that God would allow her to heal quickly and completely.

Long Term Prayer Requests

Allan–  Please pray for Rachel as she is battling bipolar disorder. Pray also for her parents who are fighting battles of their own.
Allan– Please pray for Natalie Tan as she has had a setback in her battle with her eating disorder.

Angela–  Keep Angela in prayer as she continues on her road of recovery from Anorexia.

Okie Preacher–  Battling unknown physical problems and depression.  “I have a physical problem that the doctors have not been able to identify. It has been characterized by severe muscle pain and weakness, joint pain, fatigue, shortage of breath, dizziness, difficulty swallowing, and coughing fits that almost cause me to pass out.”

White Horses- Prayer for anxious thoughts and worrying.

Allan–  Our nephew’s wife has M.S.

PK Sweet–  please pray for a bipolar son with brain damage also…that he may know and love and follow Christ, be free of all addictions and self destructive behavior, get the help he needs and be @ peace…also that God help us all in the family to be filled with the Spirit and bear luscious fruit, and be filled with joy rather than despair

Praise Reports

Okie Preacher- I can’t begin to tell you all how wonderful Rachel is doing. In a day where people being “touched” by the Lord during church is considered suspect, Rachel has indeed felt the hand of God. She is still struggling; but now with hope. I see the love of God in her eyes; she no longer has the look of desperation; I personally believe that God is on the way to healing her, but that is just a father’s hope.

Thank you all for praying…

Rachel– wow, what a great quote from spurgeon! how i hope the Lord will make that true in my life! my deepest desire is that he would be glorified in my life.

thank you all for your prayers. i am sorry for my long absence. i can’t explain it, other than to say the sicker i am the less i want/can say. and when i do have something to say, it might not always be helpful in that state, so i try not to say it.

as my dad already told you, i have seen a huge change, and it is all so obviously the work of the Lord. i know that he wants to do more with and in me and i am praying now to find all of that and be faithful to do my part in what he has for me.

love to all of you. may God encourage you all today and may you feel his love poured out on you. and if you don’t, may the knowledge of His love comfort you, even if you can’t feel it.

Why The Media Isn’t To Blame For Eating Disorders

This article was taken from Psych Central which is located   HERE.

By Margarita Tartakovsky, MS

One of the biggest misconceptions about eating disorders is that the media has a main role in making someone vulnerable to anorexia or bulimia.

It’s easy to make this assumption. The media is terribly persuasive in how we view beauty, our bodies and really ourselves.

Does the media contribute to disordered eating? YesYesYes. Make many of us feel like crap? Absolutely. Promote false ideas of health? Ditto!

{image credit}

In many ways, the media is to blame for the state of our body image. For our desire to diet. For the view that thinness leads to happiness. For the idea that we must wait until we lose weight to do anything.

Click   HERE to finish reading this article.