Supported Decision-Making and Legal Capacity in Kenya

Peer-reviewed article
(2021 Aug) Mental Health, Legal Capacity, and Human Rights, Chapter 13 199


Elizabeth Kamundia and Ilze Grobbelaar-du Plessis


The chapter reviews the mental health law reform relating to legal capacity and the involuntary treatment of persons with psychosocial disabilities in Kenya in response to the concluding observations of the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in 2015 to reform mental health law. The chapter demonstrates that despite the progressive provisions of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and public participation in the legislative process of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), including those of persons with disabilities (DPOs) and Kenya’s national human rights institution (NHRI) on supported decision-making of persons with psychosocial disabilities in the Mental Health (Amendment) Bill of 2018, prevailing views of contemporary Kenyan society still conceptualise persons with psychosocial disabilities to be dependent on relatives and other third parties in decision-making processes. The socio-cultural perception of psychosocial disability in Kenya outlines the cultural and social underpinnings of decision-making, which inform and influence parliamentarians during the law reform process. The chapter considers alternative strategies to influence the law reform process, including the need to raise awareness among parliamentarians about the human rights, dignity and autonomy of persons with psychosocial disabilities, and the development of practical alternatives to the medical model of mental health care.

Livelihood & Social Protection