Message from the Director

Creating Hope Through Action for Mental Health and Wellbeing!

Brain health is central to wellbeing, as the brain governs all our thoughts, emotions and behaviours. The brain is a highly sensory organ, receiving information from within the body and from the environment (including physical and social/psychological). It assesses the environment, prepares us for action, and serves as a critical determinant of different health and societal consequences.

The World Health Organization (WHO) recently launched its position paper on Brain Health Optimization to prioritize brain health in the public health sector and beyond. In addition, it aims to galvanize global commitment to support the implementation of the Intersectoral Global Action Plan on Epilepsy and Other Neurological Disorders 2022—2031. Besides, it will help foster cooperation among countries, civil society, academia, and private sector partners to drive the global brain health agenda. Implementing the action plan requires united action from diverse stakeholders, such as healthcare practitioners, researchers and research funders, policy decision-makers, and the general community. I was honoured to represent the BMI as a penal member on the launch of this initiative.

Meet the new BMI Trainees

We are excited to introduce to you our new interns who have joined us since July 2022!
We hope this will be a mutually enriching experience for BMI and the trainees​

​​​​​​​Staff Feature

Undela Uneeb: An Intern's Perspective

What excites you about the work you do?
I love the fact that I get to explore the systemic interventions that are in place in various regions served by AKDN. Exploring how interventions are culturally adapted to LMICs and what gaps still exist makes me feel I am contributing something worthwhile to the world. I also believe in accessibility to mental health services, so finding solutions to this prevalent problem energizes me.

What makes BMI unique? What is different about your experience here?
At BMI, no one is too junior not to be included in the conversation. As an intern here, I got to not only do tasks assigned to me but was also included in discussions about other significant projects undertaken by various professionals at BMI. Also, you are encouraged to ask questions, and the deadlines are set mutually. This conveys that both the mentors and the mentees are respected.

What is your secret to progress?
My secret is making sure that I am open to new information, ideas, viewpoints, opinions and experiences. I think what works for me is having a growth mindset and never shying away from asking.

What does a typical day for you look like?
As I am working at BMI as an intern, I spend my day accomplishing my set tasks, meeting with my co-intern and mentor, and being involved in various meetings with the BMI team. Apart from this, I tutor and do the tasks assigned to me at UNAP. In the end, I make sure to do something to relax, like read a book, watch something, meditate or exercise, depending on the day.

​Institute Features/ Updates


New partnership to enhance cancer care and mental well-being

This initiative creates a partnership between the Cancer Research Centre & the Brain and Mind Institute, BMI at the AKU and the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre in Canada.

Preliminary activities involve the implementation of a Distress Assessment and Response Tool (DART) developed by Dr. Madeline Li of Princess Margaret Cancer Centre. DART is an electronic screening tool that supports patients and their care teams in understanding needs for integrated, interprofessional care. AKU is exploring the potential to use the tool with cancer patients to undertake, for example, clinical screening for symptoms of poor mental health and thereby better understand disease prevalence and enhance treatment pathways.​

Enhancing mental health through sports and social connections

BMI and the Centre of Excellence in Women and Child Health have formed a unique partnership with Fútbol Más to enhance mental health care for children and young people in Kenya's underserved populations.

New collaboration to enhance BMI's educational programs

BMI have formed a unique partnership with Health[e]Foundation to strengthen digital knowledge and education for increased awareness through integrating mental and neuroscience focus.

Health[e]Foundation is a global health foundation that supports education in Africa and other parts of the world. As a foundation, the organization is committed to supporting healthcare professionals and community workers in the world's most vulnerable societies with digital global health learning platforms and information through e-Health and m-Health solutions.​


The AKU-Nairobi self-harm registry: Towards suicide prevention
The AKU self-harm registry is a hospital-based system that monitors the occurrence of hospital-treated self-harm while gathering data on individuals who present to AKU-Hospital emergency departments after engaging in self-harm. According to WHO, self-harm is defined as "an act with non-fatal outcome in which an individual deliberately initiates a non-habitual behaviour, that without intervention from others will cause self-harm." This encompasses acts with varying degrees of suicidal intent and underlying motives, such as loss of control, a cry for help, or self-punishment.

As few nations worldwide have reliable information on self-harm, AKU has developed the Self-Harm Registry, with the Self-Harm Registry Committee (SHRC) established by the Brain and Mind Institute (BMI), to monitor the registry's development in Kenya. The committee comprises members with expertise in mental health, suicide prevention, AKU leadership and governance, and those with lived experiences. The committee created a baseline dataset to evaluate the degree of self-harm while examining trends and the circumstances surrounding the act and the individual. The AKU Electronic Health System will be used to capture data for all self-harm cases.​

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We are happy to receive your comments and feedback. Email us at Brain&Mind@aku.edu