Kenya doctor fights mental health stigma in 'traumatized continent'

Story highlights

  • Top psychiatrist Frank Njenga has changed how many Kenyans think about mental health issues
  • Njenga helped build the first private in-patient psychiatric hospital in Kenya
  • He's also created a television talk show in an effort to build better understanding

Every week CNN International's African Voices highlights Africa's most engaging personalities, exploring the lives and passions of people who rarely open themselves up to the camera.

(CNN)As Kenya's leading psychiatrist, Frank Njenga has been championing the cause of better mental health care on the east African country and the continent for more than three decades.

He's been working tirelessly to bring quality mental health care in a country where mentally disabled people receive little help from the state and face massive stigma from society.
    "It's a horrible indictment on what we've done but the truth and reality is that very little has been done systematically and deliberately by government or by ourselves to bring up the level of mental health in this part of the world," says Njenga.
    In Kenya, an estimated three million, mostly poor, people live with intellectual and mental disabilities, according to NGO and United Nations figures. At the same time, the ratio of psychiatrists to the population is dismal -- just one psychiatrist to half a million people.
    But Njenga, who is president of the African Association of Psychiatrists, says the problem is even worse in other countries on the continent.
    "It is a major challenge but it is a challenge that is very sadly is spread across the whole of the