The number of young people being admitted to the Murang'a County Referral Hospital has been steadily on the rise, a psychiatric expert who works there has revealed.
According Angela Muthoni, the hospital has been receiving over 300 youth in one month, a numbers she says is alarming, adding that most of them are students in secondary schools and colleges.
Ms Muthoni noted that the hospital's 20-bed ward for such patients is now full.
She added that those admitted there are in critical stages and that they refer some to other hospitals since they cannot accommodate all of them.
According to Ms Muthoni, the hospital's psychiatric unit, which is the second one in Mount Kenya region, receives patients from Embu, Kirinyaga and Kiambu counties. The other unit is at the Nyeri Provincial General Hospital.
She told the Nation that most of the patients are men aged between 15 and 39 years and who are victims of substance abuse.
"The numbers are overwhelming, our youth have abused drugs to the extent of damaging their brains resulting to mental illnesses. It is unfortunate that most of them are in secondary schools and higher learning institutions," she said.
Psychiatric and medical assessments have shown that excessive use of bhang among teenagers is one main cause of mental ailments.
Ms Muthoni linked increased incidents of murder and suicides in the region to substance abuse, saying the drugs cause illusions and hallucinations that lead to suicidal thoughts.
"After abusing the drugs for some time, the victims can easily kill or commit suicide and this explains why there are increased incidents of murder and suicides in the region," he said.
WAR ON DRUGS
She proposed that war on drugs abuse be taken to learning institutions, saying drug peddlers have come up with means to sneak in drugs to students.
"Extensive campaigns against use of drugs in secondary schools and higher learning institutions is needed to manage the vice. There seems to be cartels sneaking drugs into schools," she said.
Last week, the National Agency for Campaign Against Drug Abuse (Nacada) raised the alarm over the increased use of Kuber in the country and proposed that the Ministry of Health to introduces regulations for drug or ban it altogether.
The agency said although the drug falls under the Tobacco Control Act and is legal, it has been adulterated with other hard drugs including cocaine and bhang, making it to have high addictive effects and hard to stop taking.