National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF) Insures Against Mental Health Disorders

NHIF Insures Against Mental Health Disorders

The COVID-19 pandemic has had an impact on the mental health of beneficiaries through bereavement (loss of life), isolation (COVID-19 patients put on quarantine), loss of income and fear (depression and suicide), increased levels of alcohol and drug use, insomnia, and anxiety; or neurological and mental complications, such as delirium, agitation, and stroke. However, NHIF, The Ministry of Health, and other partners are continuing to take action to help Kenyans whose mental health and wellbeing are affected by the coronavirus pandemic. The Ministry is providing mental health and psychosocial support strategies and measures which are critical in the short- and long-term response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The government is prioritizing Mental Health and Psychosocial Support (MHPSS) through the provision of mental health and psychological services to the public, quarantine and hospitalized persons, healthcare workers, and high-risk vulnerable populations.  

The National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF) spent Ksh 117.3 million in the financial year 2020/ 2021 as payment for the treatment of 563 patients suffering from drug and substance abuse. In FY 2020/21 Quarter 2 comprised 39.76 million paid out (190 cases) and Quarter 3 comprised 54.61 million paid out (244 cases) translating to an increase of 37%. The NHIF is central to the advancement of the national economy by ensuring a healthy and productive workforce towards realizing Kenya Vision 2030 through Universal Healthcare Coverage (UHC) among other services. These include special attention to the needs of mental health patients in line with the Constitution of Kenya 2010, Kenya Health Policy (2014-2030), and Kenya Mental Health Policy, 2015-2030. The mental health policy adopts strategic and evidence-based approaches to address substance use prevention, treatment, and the rehabilitation of persons with substance use disorders. The World Health Organization (WHO) defines mental health as a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity. It is a state of well-being whereby individuals recognize and realize their abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, work productively and fruitfully, and contribute to their communities. 

Mental health is a key determinant of overall health and socio-economic development. It influences a variety of outcomes for individuals and communities such as healthier lifestyles; better physical health; improved recovery from illness; fewer limitations in daily living; higher education attainment; greater productivity, employment, and earnings; better relationships with adults and with children; more social cohesion and engagement and improved quality of life. 

NHIF insures mental health patients through a drug and substance abuse package that includes an outpatient cover taking care of medical consultation; rehabilitation package for rehabilitation and treatment of persons addicted to harmful or hazardous psychoactive substances. The NHIF drug rehabilitation package caters to the treatment of admitted beneficiaries who suffer from the chronic use of drugs, including alcohol, tobacco, cannabis, heroin, mandrax, and cocaine among others. There are specially contracted facilities to fulfill this service on behalf of NHIF and beneficiaries are covered up to 90 days for the cost of admission and treatment of Ksh. 60,000. 

In addition, NHIF offers inpatient treatment packages for mental disorders. This covers depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and other health care diagnosis, procedure, and treatment. The categories under this package are consultations, accommodation/ bed charges, nursing care, diagnostic laboratory tests, radiology examinations, physician’s, surgeon’s, anaesthetist’s, and physiotherapist’s fees; operating theatre charges; specialist consultations or visits; prescribed medications and dressings. Patients requiring rehabilitation are referred to the treatment centres by other hospitals, psychiatric doctors, churches, police departments, and the judiciary. The rehabilitation cover includes a three-stage treatment program of detoxification, rehabilitation, and after-care arrangements. 

Currently, there are six rehabilitation centres based in Nairobi and Kiambu counties. They are Chiromo Lane Medical Centre, The Retreat, The Raphaelites Red Hill place in Limuru town of Kiambu County, Mariakani nursing and Rehabilitation centers, and Brightside Drug Abuse & treatment Centre, and Nairobi west hospital. Mathari Mental Hospital and other GoK hospitals at the Tertiary level (KNH and MTRH-level 6), County referral Hospitals at level 5, and Sub- County referral hospitals at level 4 which have psychiatric wards and outpatient consulting clinics and deployed specialists also offer the services. They serve as referral centres to other facilities that lack specialty care as cases of drug and substance abuse disorders are filtered and forwarded for further management. Therapy involves monthly family sessions, group, and individual counselling, residential drug-free treatment, therapeutic community engagements, and anonymous programs for alcoholic and narcotic admission cases. The enumerated sequence covers a span of up to 90 days. 

To become a member of NHIF, visit the NHIF website on and attach your passport photo and copy of your Identity card then fill in the necessary details in the field provided. 


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