Kenya: left behind

When mental illness is treated as a crime

< image © Valentin Lombardi.

Misunderstood and excluded by their peers, people with mental health conditions are more likely to end up in prison. Once incarcerated, their ostracization is striking. The NGO Tunawiri addresses this issue by providing training to incarcerated people and prison staff on mental health, disability rights and socioeconomic transformation.

Charity is one of its founding members. She advocates for the rights of people with mental health conditions in Kenya through the lens of her lived experience with bipolar disorder. Prison Insider asked her three questions.

— This interview is part of the series Caught in the spiral.

Criminal justice requires a continuum of care: from police to court, from prison to probation and back to the person's community.

Prison staff tends to overlook individuals with less severe mental health issues, making them practically invisible and failing to acknowledge their condition.

We need trained prison officers who can understand what a mental health condition is and what it implies.