Kenyan mental health start-up Shamiri Institute has raised $1 million in funding to tackle mental health illness in Kenya and the rest of the African countries. Shamiri secured the funding from Templeton World Charity Foundation.
Shamiri institute, which was founded in 2018 at Harvard University by Tom Osborn and Katherine Venturo-Conerly, will use the funding to develop and implement tools that improve the mental health and wellbeing of Africa’s youths.
The data-driven public benefit organization uses innovative social science research to tackle mental health issues, which are on the rise in Africa due to perennial problems such as civil wars, poverty and high levels of unemployment among others.
According to World Health Organisation (WHO), mental health needs in the African continent are significant. Fifteen African countries are among the top 30 globally for suicide per 100,000 people.
WHO statistics indicate that globally there are nine mental health workers per 100,000 people. In the Africa continent, however, this falls to 0.9, and among this workforce, one-third are non-professional workers. This means there is a severe shortage of psychiatrists and psychologists in African countries with rural areas taking the full brunt as most of the skilled professionals are concentrated in larger cities.
To solve the mental health crisis among African youths, policymakers should leverage technology to expand virtual care, invest in workforce training and deployment and offer free counselling services to the affected.