Your Details

Your job title:

Founder/CEO

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Your organization name:

PDO Kenya

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https://www.pdokenya.org/

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When was your organization founded?

May 2016

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In what city, town, or region are you located?

Nakuru, Kenya
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In what city, town, or region is your organization headquartered?

Nakuru, Kenya
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In which countries does your organization currently operate?

  • Kenya
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About You

Why are you applying for The Elevate Prize?

10.8% of Kenyans suffer mental illness at any time with WHO estimating that the treatment

gap is as high as 85% in low and middle-income countries (LMICs) like Kenya. For the poor

and the marginalized communities in Kenya, mental health services are virtually inaccessible.

It results in a loss in productivity and unprecedented human suffering to those affected,

their families and their community hence worsening their already disadvantaged socio-economic situation.

I will utilize the funding to expand my organization’s capacity to meet the rising demand of mental health services in Kenya focusing more on the socially disadvantaged who were worst affected by COVID-19. Through my organization, 50,000 thousands underserved Kenyans will receive affordable and accessible mental health services and psychosocial support at their doorstep through our mobile telepsychiatry unit – Wellbeing Lounge.

Additionally, winning it will help expand the reach (from the current 856) and range of psychosocial interventions  for health workers deployed at COVID-19 isolation units across Kenya who continue to face exceptional mental stress due to stigma by their communities for being potential carriers of the virus and the psychological burden of processing COVID fatalities in their hospitals. 

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Tell us about YOU:

I was born in rural Kenya and grew up with undiagnosed ADHD. I faced many social challenges that come with living with undiagnosed ADHD in an African setting. Like many children with ADHD, these challenges almost derailed my education but I was lucky to survive through to college. When I was finally in the city and able to afford a psychiatrist, I was given my diagnosis and this became the turning point in my life.

I chose not to allow my childhood trauma to poison me with hate and vengeance. Instead it gave me a sense of responsibility, love and compassion for people going through similar challenges. Thus, in 2013, I left the comfort of a well-paying job as the Country Director of an International NGO to establish a community based mental health organization, the Psychiatric Disability Organization (PDO).

PDO is now an accomplished mental health organization that uses innovation to break the barriers of access to care.  Our three-pronged approach include - advocacy, treatment and social support.

Through our community innovation model, the Pamoja Initiative, we bring affordable and quality mental health services to underserved communities at their doorstep through our mobile unit – the wellbeing Lounge.

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Video Introduction

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Pitch your organization.

In Kenya, only 0.01% of the annual health budget goes to mental health. This is compounded by the fact that there are only 62 government psychiatrists serving 47 million Kenyans. In addition, the total number of health workers per 100,000 population is 0.19 (WHO 2017).

PDO’s Pamoja Initiative has over the last 4 years been able bridge this gap in oru community by training 420 community mental health workers and peer advocates, and enlisted the services of worked with 42 therapists. We work with specialists to provide treatment to over 9,000 patients with moderate and severe conditions. We have provided psychological first aid to over 400 people in distress, both online and via telepsychiatry which included 99 suicide interventions during COVID. Additionally, I led a mental health awareness campaign #MovingMountains that has reached 28 destinations in 14 countries in Africa, Asia and Europe.

PDO has been the leading COVID-19 mental health response organization in Kenya. When everyone feared getting directly involved with COVID frontline workers we understood the importance of protecting their psychological wellbeing and launched a range of mental health interventions for them across the country last year. So far we have reached 856 COVID health workers. 

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Describe what makes your work innovative.

Our biggest strength and unique selling point is our approach that integrates two very critical skills set in our programming – expert by lived experience and expert by training, a community innovation we call Pamoja Initiative.

 This innovation is as a hybrid model that brings on board the versatility of mental health unit on wheels, and the efficiency and affordability of digital telepsychiatry services. The technology enables PDO to connect our local non-specialist mental health lay workers at the grassroots with specialists located far away via video conference technology enabling underserved communities access highest quality services at their doorstep.

The innovation has won accolades international including being featured in the UNAIDS Ten Global Community Innovation booklet of 2020. It has three pillars;

  • Task-shifting - using a stepped care approach where peers are trained as task-shifted lay counsellors in their community.
  • Telepsychiatry - using a video link to connect these task-shifted peers and their clients at the community with PDO specialists locally and abroad for instant referral services, consultation, training and supervision.
  • Cultural adaptation –the model is home grown and culturally sensitive that has needs adapted interventions that were refined through feedback from local stakeholders and the PWDs.  
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How and why is your organization having an impact on humanity?

PDO has been bridging the gap between the need for mental health treatment by targeting the poor and marginalized in the community who are left out by mainstream mental health service providers.  This is currently achieved through a stepped care approach where both specialists and advocates with lived mental health experience work together to improve access to services at the grassroots. The peers offer peer support and peer counseling in a unique way – blending lived experience and training and they are supported by specialist for referral, supervision and training.

Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, mental health response has become more crucial. PDO emerged as the leading COVID-19 mental health response organization in Kenya. PDO’s COVID-19 mental health response activities include: provision of self-care services for health workers deployed at Covid-19 isolation units and quarantine centers and provision of Prison E-therapy programs. PDO also adjusted to providing E-therapy and psychiatric consultations by procuring a mobile tele psychiatry unit for use by those unable to visit the clinic, to ensure adherence to treatment and therapy and for use in response during disasters and emergency.

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Select the key characteristics of the community your organization is impacting.

  • Women & Girls
  • Pregnant Women
  • Children & Adolescents
  • Rural
  • Peri-Urban
  • Urban
  • Poor
  • Low-Income
  • Persons with Disabilities
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Which of the UN Sustainable Development Goals does your organization address?

  • 1. No Poverty
  • 3. Good Health and Well-being
  • 10. Reduced Inequality
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Which of the following categories best describes your work?

Health

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Solution Team

 
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