Mental health: the unspoken pandemic

© DAAD Kenya

The Kenya DAAD Scholars Association (KDSA), in partnership with South Eastern Kenya University (SEKU) in Kitui, held its first physical event in years from May 20-22, a three-day conference titled “Mental Health Pandemic among Kenyan Academia: Sharing Experiences and Building Resilience among the Odds.”

SEKU: The Chief Guest waters her tree after the tree planting exercise.

Present at the opening ceremony were Hon. Dr. Ruth Koki, the Member of Parliament for Kitui Central, Prof. Eng. Douglas Shitanda, the Vice Chancellor of South Eastern Kenya University, Dr. Dorothee Weyler, the Regional Director of DAAD, and Prof. Fredrick Nyamwala, the Acting National Chairperson of KDSA, who also delivered the introductory comments and participated in a tree planting ceremony.

Recognizing that an overwhelming workload, institutional pressure, financially underfunded universities coupled with personal challenges call for intentional efforts towards well-being, resilience and the awareness when to seek help, the Kenyan DAAD Alumni gathered to receive knowledge, understanding and tools to mitigate increasingly demanding academic careers.

In her keynote, clinical Psychologist Dr. Catherine Amulundu made clear: There is no health without mental health. With compassion and many examples from her practice, she helped participants recognize when and how to seek help. Other topics presented during the conference included nurturing psychological resilience, what institutional policies support the overall well-being of academic staff members, and the impact of social media.

© DAAD Kenya

Several participants seeking guidance on mental health concerns made use of a temporary clinic, offered in a private and safe environment by professional counsellors alongside the conference.

For the first time, representatives of DAAD Alumni associations from the other EAC countries joined their fellow Kenyan Alumni for this event.

Tree planting before the ascent of the Nzambani rock© DAAD Kenya

In a cheerful environment, Alumni from Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda, Ethiopia, Burundi and South Sudan connected and bonded with their hosts, networked, planned and established mentorships – and even climbed the Nzambani Rock together, a tourist site in Kitui county and a mountain surrounded by myth.




During an Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the association on the third day, the members elected a new leadership as follows:

Prof. Fredrick Nyamwala, Moi University, Chair

Prof. Fredrick Kengara, Bomet University College, Vice Chair

Dr. Patrick Okanya, Technical University of Kenya, Secretary General

Dr. Elizabeth Ndunda, Machakos University, Assistant Secretary General

Dr. Philip Mayeku, Institute for Primate Research, Treasurer

Dr. Rose Opiyo, MMUST, Assistant Treasurer

Members of the National Executive Council (NEC): Prof. Johnson Kitheka, SEKU; Dr. Umulkher Abdillahi, MMUST; Dr. Ezekiel Mecha, University of Nairobi


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Screenshot of map with location of DAAD-office marked