Removing barriers to mental health care in Kenya

The Anansi program, developed by Shamiri Institute in Kenya, is an evidence-based innovative mental health protocol for low-income youths. FID grant will fund a large-scale dissemination study to generate further evidence on implementation outcomes, cost-effectiveness and generate causal evidence on poverty and mental health.


In Kenya, where 50% of the population is aged 19 or younger, nearly one in two Kenyan youth reports elevated symptoms of depression and anxiety. Yet, young Kenyans with mental health issues have few opportunities to seek help. Traditional psychotherapy remains highly expensive and requires expert intervention while there is one clinician for every million citizens in the country. Social stigma in mental health also inhibits help-seeking behaviour.

As such, young people struggle with (sometimes lifetime) medical, educational, economic, legal, and interpersonal problems that affect their well-being and increase their risk to live in poverty.


Shamiri means “thrive” in Kiswahili. Since 2017, Shamiri Institute has developed the Anansi program, aimed at addressing youth mental health issues in Kenya with :

  • A rigorously evaluated treatment protocol that uses stigma-free content;
  • A three tier delivery model that connects lay providers, trained clinical supervisors and clinical psychologists and psychiatrists.

In 2022, 4,500 youths received Anansi in ten secondary schools in Kenya.

Expected results

FID will finance a 24-month intervention to conduct a large-scale dissemination impact evaluation among 25,000 low-income youth to:

  • Investigate if and how Anansi breaks the link between poverty and mental health
  • Explore models of disseminating Anansi with a view to scale

In addition, it will also contribute to generating causal evidence on poverty and mental health as well as further evidence on the long-term effects of Anansi on a wide range of well-being and functioning outcomes.

Presentation of the team

Shamiri Institute is a data-driven public benefit organization that combines cutting edge social science research with a deep contextual knowledge of the communities. Based in Nairobi, Kenya, Shamiri was founded in 2018 by award-winning Kenyan entrepreneur and community – mobilizer Tom Osborn and rising global mental health research Katherine Venturo-Conerly.