Breakthrough Spreads Resilience to Africa with New Clubhouse

Bungoma Clubhouse Board and staff - Kenya Africa

We are so excited to announce a new Clubhouse opening. This time, it’s an international location – located in Bungoma, Kenya!

Our goal is to create a community-based organization and cultivate an environment where people living with serious and persistent mental illnesses can build resilience and lead happy, fulfilling, healthy lives. 

Kenya’s current facility, Bungoma Health, is a one-of-a-kind mental health organization in Bungoma County in Western Kenya, which has a population of 1.5 million people. It will transform into a full-service Clubhouse. 

Here and in each county in Kenya, there are few, if any, services for mental health, even though 1 in 5 people experience mental illness. That means up to 70,400 residents are likely to have psychiatric conditions or severe mental illness.

Mental illness is not understood well there, and within their culture, there are very different ways of dealing with it. In addition, good medication for mental illness is almost non-existent, or quantities are extremely limited. 

People must walk for miles to get to this location. But despite these challenges, some people are already showing up at the building where the Clubhouse is located!

“My long-term vision to give back to the community that I grew up in is coming true after serving Breakthrough Wichita in Kansas, for the past 24 years,” said David Kapten, Program Director. “For more than 16 years, Breakthrough Wichita has been working with communities and stakeholders in Bungoma, Kenya, to develop a Clubhouse.”

The work began in 2007 when Breakthrough won a grant from the U.S. Department of State to create a professional exchange project on mental healthcare between Breakthrough and Kenya’s Basic Needs organization. We helped to host two successful seminars in Kenya in 2019.

Since that time, we have promoted the Clubhouse in churches, during World Mental Health Month, and through advocacy at the county headquarters.

Success for this Clubhouse will come through Breakthrough’s connection with communities to develop comprehensive systems of care that include psychiatrists, social workers, local leaders, advocates, community-based organizations, and more. Part of the effort will help train healthcare practitioners to develop guidelines and best practices to operate the Clubhouse.

Within the next five years, we hope to assist the development of Bungoma Health in becoming a sustainable community-based organization serving individuals suffering from mental illness, including schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, major depression, and trauma. We want them not only to survive but to find resilience and thrive.  

Our team will travel to Kenya in January 2024 to tour two local hospitals for a firsthand experience of the need for mental health services. We’ll also participate in advocacy for mental health awareness at the county headquarters and civil societies. And we’ll participate in an open house/health fair at the Clubhouse, attend the official launch event, and meet with Bungoma stakeholders.  

We need your support to cultivate resilience at this new location.