Why You Should Support Our New Clubhouse Community Resource to Spark Resilience for Thousands

By Andy Houltberg, Breakthrough CEO
New Breakthrough Clubhouse in Kenya

Years of hard work has paid off and we are very pleased to share the launch of a new community-based health organization, Bungoma Health Link Forum (BHLF), in western Kenya. 

BHLF is the first organization of its kind in western Kenya, which is located in east Africa.

This significant project began in 2007 when we utilized a U.S. Department of State mental healthcare grant, and later helped host two successful seminars in Kenya. BHLF was then incorporated on March 30, 2022, as a non-profit organization. 

Our goal with this location is to cultivate an environment where people living with serious and persistent mental illnesses build resilience and lead happy, fulfilling, healthy lives. 

Breakthrough’s CEO, Andy Houltberg, traveled to Kenya for the exciting opening day – along with current staff Katie Gibbons and David Kapten, as well as Gail Johnson, one of our dedicated board members, and Barbara Andres, former Breakthrough CEO. 

BHLF operates as a Breakthrough Clubhouse, offering social and vocational programs to build resilience and reduce isolation for those living with severe and persistent mental illness, providing support for their recovery. Members and staff are treated as equals in this unique environment to support recovery. Those who are struggling see others exemplify resilience – to keep fighting and maintain productive lives.

The only difference with BHLF – a psychiatrist is present to provide diagnoses for members who wish to get help from the organization. In fact, the psychiatrist is the only one in the entire county which has a population of 1.5 million. 

Reaching More Who Need Mental Health Resources

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 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!

Over 150 people attended the launch, and Bungoma community leaders expressed their appreciation for the support from Breakthrough and Global Action 4 Mental Health, a partner organization from New York.  

The Breakthrough team also visited Bungoma County Hospital to gain insights into the existing mental health services and needs in the region. 

They spoke to various community leaders in Bungoma and learned more about the dire need for mental health services in Kenya.  

And the team spent time at Bungoma’s Kibabii University where Barbara shared her expertise with social work students, focusing on mental healthcare and the role of social workers.

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.  

Consider giving today to help those struggling with mental illness.