How many videos have you watched so far which are about Mathari patients? What is the feeling that you get to the end of the clip?
Essentially what is being sold here is that mental illness equals a threat to safety and security. You are not safe as long as the patient of Mathari hospital.
I need a minute
I need minute to laugh
When l think of all the dangerous people ‘out here’ who have never been to Mathari, my laughter turns to the what it is that l am really feeling. An uncomfortable disappointment. Here we go again playing off the misconceptions about mental illness to gain leverage in a situation which in my view has 100% legitimacy and merit. It does not call for dragging mental health patients along to catalyze the resolution of the situation to your favor.
One day l will tell you about my first day in Mathari which is where l did my community service and the start of my love affair with it through my internship and graduate school. For today however, my message is simple. Do not buy into the idea that all patients admitted at Mathari hospital are dangerous and your life is at risk.
What are the facts?
1. Not all mental patients are violent
2. Just because a patient from Mathari is running, it doesn’t mean she is violent. She is running. Period!
3. The men jumping off the fence are not patients from the maximum security unit.
4. If they were so scary and out of their minds the Mathari staff would not be standing around taking videos and asking them to leave their uniform behind.
5. Mathari hospital houses the civil and criminal parts of mental health care for both men and women. It also runs a rehabilitation center for drugs and alcohol.
6. Most of these patients will go back by themselves and/ or family will take them.
I am not saying we should not be concerned. Just do not use Mathari patients to help an agenda ahead by creating fear. This puts the patients at risk presently. It also undoes a lot of work some very cool and amazing people have done over the years to reduce stigma and build supportive communities around those with mental illness. What is worse, once it is all well done allocation the same 1% budget resources for care and treatment will endure. Mental patients are not part of your war chest.