John’s Story: The Impact of Mentoring Health Providers on Mental Health

Personal Stories of Living with Mental Illness in Kenya

John* previously ran a business and small farm to support his family. He started exhibiting behaviors deemed deviant by his community and could not care for himself. He said he started hearing voices and wandering away from his home. 

While at a police station, John was encouraged to seek mental healthcare at a local clinic where the AMPATH team was mentoring the clinician. She  diagnosed him with schizophrenia and enrolled him in treatment. His family was educated on his illness and how to best support him to recovery. John’s siblings and family offered to support him to ensure he took medication and attended clinic appointments.

Most providers in Kenya do not feel comfortable treating patients with mental illness and work in facilities where medications for mental illness are not available. By partnering with health facilities and providers in Kenya, the AMPATH team can help deliver these critical services to populations in need in communities where help previously did not exist. The AMPATH team mentors primary health providers to care for patients with mental illness. John is one of the people benefiting from this program because he can access care at his local health center.

John showed remarkable improvement a few months later, functioning at home and on the farm and maintaining a calm demeanor. The family expressed gratitude to the clinical team and reported that he was fully immersed in his family activities and regained the function he had lost.

With the growing prevalence of mental illness among some of the world’s most vulnerable populations, the Astellas Global Health Foundation supports initiatives to improve access to mental healthcare diagnosis and treatment services for patients and caregivers in low- and middle-income countries. Since 2018, the Foundation has partnered with the Academic Model Providing Access to Healthcare (AMPATH), through the Indiana University Center for Global Health Equity and in partnership with Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital, to expand mental health services and education to more than 500,000 people in Western Kenya. Here are just a few stories of people who have been reached.

To further extend this impact, the Foundation is running its first global employee fundraising campaign in June and July 2024 to support people in Kenya with mental illness. Every dollar donated helps patients with skills-building and income-generating activities to rebuild their lives after successful therapy in AMPATH’s projects.

AMPATH is a partnership among Moi University, Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital, a global network of academic health centers led by Indiana University, and the Kenyan Government. The AMPATH mission is “to improve the health of people in underserved communities by working in partnership with academic health centers, ministries of health and others to build public sector health systems and promote well-being.” Learn more about the incredible impact AMPATH is making in Kenya on its website.

*All names have been changed.