Ethical Considerations for Community Based Psychosocial Accompaniment: Towards a Strengthened Mental Health Response amidst Covid-19 Pandemic

  • Telesia Kathini Musili, PhD University of Nairobi
  • Fancy Cheronoh, PhD University of Nairobi
Keywords: Community-based, Covid-19, Ethics, Mental health, Psychosocial Accompaniment
Share Article:


The outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic in the early months of 2020 thwarted and continues to disrupt the strides made in the provision of health services including mental health. Mental health stability is vital to personal wellbeing, the building of relationships and the making of notable contributions to society. This paper sought to situate the importance of psychosocial accompaniment within the community as one of the strategies of responding to mental health challenges that are usually compounded by stigma and discrimination. Content analysis of relational actions prompted by the infectious Covid-19 pandemic formed the basis of this article. Ethical considerations of justice and mutual trust are advanced as foundational values in a community of relations that can easily and practically respond to mental health instability amidst contagious epidemics. The study employed reported experiences of distress emanating from life disruptions that significantly led to poorer mental health in order to urge for psychosocial accompaniment that is founded within the community level. Close relations within the community are lauded as a practical strategy of enhancing and strengthening mental health response amidst contagious pandemics, such as Covid-19.


Download data is not yet available.


Bitta, M. A., Bakolis, I., Kariuki, S. M., Nyutu, G., Mochama, G., Thornicroft, G., & Newton, C. R. (2018). Suicide in a rural area of coastal Kenya. BMC psychiatry, 18(1), 1-8.

Brief, P. (2020). COVID-19 and the Need for Action on Mental Health. World Health Organization.

Ellner, A., Pace, C., Lee, S., Weigel, J. L., & Farmer, P. (2013). 4 EMBRACING COMPLEXITY. Structural Approaches in Public Health.

Farmer, P. (2011). Re-imagining accompaniment: Global health and liberation theology—Conversation between Paul Farmer and Father Gustavo Gutiérrez. Ford Family Series.

Goizueta, R. S. (2009). Christ our companion: Toward a theological aesthetics of liberation. Orbis Books.

Gutierrez, G. (1983). The Power of the Poor in History (Maryknoll, NY. Orbis, 4.

Jaguga, F., & Kwobah, E. (2020). Mental health response to the COVID-19 pandemic in Kenya: a review. International journal of mental health systems, 14(1), 1-6.

Jenkins, R., Kiima, D., Njenga, F., Okonji, M., Kingora, J., Kathuku, D., & Lock, S. (2010). Integration of mental health into primary care in Kenya. World Psychiatry, 9(2), 118.

John, N., Roy, C., Mwangi, M., Raval, N., & McGovern, T. (2021). COVID-19 and gender-based violence (GBV): hard-to-reach women and girls, services, and programmes in Kenya. Gender & Development, 29(1), 55-71.

Kenya Penal Code. (2012). Laws of Kenya: Penal Code. National Council for Law Reporting with the Authority of the Attorney General. Nairobi, Kenya.

Kokonya, D. A., Khasakhala, L. I., Kuria, M., Mutiso, V., Ongecha, F. A., & Ndetei, D. M. (2007). The challenges of human resources in mental health in Kenya. South African Psychiatry Review, 10(1), 33-36.

Marangu, E., Mansouri, F., Sands, N., Ndetei, D., Muriithi, P., Wynter, K., & Rawson, H. (2021). Assessing mental health literacy of primary health care workers in Kenya: a cross-sectional survey. International journal of mental health systems, 15(1), 1-10.

Marangu, E., Sands, N., Rolley, J., Mansouri, F., & Ndetei, D. (2014). Mental healthcare in Kenya: exploring optimal conditions for capacity building: opinion paper. African Journal of Primary Health Care and Family Medicine, 6(1), 1-5.

Ministry of Health (MoH). (2020). The state of mental health in Kenya: A celebration of world mental health day 2020. Ministry of Health. Nairobi, Kenya.

Mutiso, V. N., Musyimi, C. W., Tomita, A., Loeffen, L., Burns, J. K., & Ndetei, D. M. (2018). Epidemiological patterns of mental disorders and stigma in a community household survey in urban slum and rural settings in Kenya. International Journal of Social Psychiatry, 64(2), 120-129.

Nation Media Group. (2005). National Television Channel.

Ochillo, M., & Elsie, I. (2020). Mental health implications of COVID-19 in Kenya. Europasian Journal of Medical Sciences, 2, 128-130.

Onyango, M. A., Resnick, K., Davis, A., & Shah, R. R. (2019). Gender-based violence among adolescent girls and young women: a neglected consequence of the West African Ebola outbreak. In Pregnant in the Time of Ebola (pp. 121-132). Springer, Cham.

Pagani, O., Francis, P. A., Fleming, G. F., Walley, B. A., Viale, G., Colleoni, M., ... & International Breast Cancer Study Group. (2020). Absolute improvements in freedom from distant recurrence to tailor adjuvant endocrine therapies for premenopausal women: results from TEXT and SOFT. Journal of Clinical Oncology, 38(12), 1293.

Plomecka, M. B., Gobbi, S., Neckels, R., Radziński, P., Skórko, B., Lazerri, S., & Jawaid, A. (2020). Mental health impact of COVID-19: A global study of risk and resilience factors. MedRxiv. Published online May, 9.

Republic of Kenya. (2020). A comprehensive guide on Mental Health and Psychosocial Support during the COVID-19 pandemic. Ministry of Health, Nairobi, Kenya. Comprehensive-Guide -on-Menta l-Health-and-Psychosocial-Support-For-COVID-19-Pande mic-4.pdf. Accessed June 4 2021.

Roy, D., Tripathy, S., Kar, S. K., Sharma, N., Verma, S. K., & Kaushal, V. (2020). Study of knowledge, attitude, anxiety & perceived mental healthcare need in Indian population during COVID-19 pandemic. Asian journal of psychiatry, 51, 102083.

Saxena, S., Saraceno, B., & Granstein, J. (2013). Scaling up mental health care in resource-poor settings. Improving Mental Health Care: The Global Challenge, 12-24.

Thomson, D. R., Rich, M. L., Kaigamba, F., Socci, A. R., Hakizamungu, M., Bagiruwigize, E., ... & Franke, M. F. (2014). Community-based accompaniment and psychosocial health outcomes in HIV-infected adults in Rwanda: a prospective study. AIDS and Behavior, 18(2), 368-380.

Wang, C., Pan, R., Wan, X., Tan, Y., Xu, L., McIntyre, R. S., ... & Ho, C. (2020). A longitudinal study on the mental health of general population during the COVID-19 epidemic in China. Brain, behavior, and immunity, 87, 40-48.

Watkins, M. (2015). Psychosocial accompaniment. Journal of Social and Political Psychology, 3(1), 324-341.

Watkins, M. (2018). Accompaniment: psychosocial, environmental, trans-species, earth.

Woodward, I., Vongswasdi, P., & More, E. (2015). Generational diversity at work: A systematic review of the research.

World Health Organization. (2015). Update of the Mental Health Gap Action Programme (mhGAP) guidelines for mental, neurological and substance use disorders, 2015. World Health Organization.

World Health Organization. (2020). Mental health and psychosocial considerations during the COVID-19 outbreak, March 18 2020 (No. WHO/2019-nCoV/MentalHealth/2020.1). World Health Organization.

World Health Organization. (2021). Pandemic influenza preparedness framework: annual progress report, 1 January-31 December 2020.

12 October, 2021
How to Cite
Musili, T., & Cheronoh, F. (2021). Ethical Considerations for Community Based Psychosocial Accompaniment: Towards a Strengthened Mental Health Response amidst Covid-19 Pandemic. East African Journal of Arts and Social Sciences, 4(1), 1-10.