Chiromo Hospital Group chief executive Vincent Hongo, left, and Kenyan Olympic Committee Deputy President Shadrack Maluki celebrate their agreement ©NOC-K

Kenya’s athletes have been encouraged to speak out on mental health as the National Olympic Committee of Kenya (NOC-K) signed a new agreement to provide more awareness for athletes.

The campaign known as "Tufunguke Wanaspoti" is the product of a deal between the Chiromo Hospital Group by which the NOC-K will be able to provide "promotive, preventive, and curative mental health services" to Kenyan sportsmen and women.

"The pressure to perform will be big this year with the Commonwealth Games and Africa Youth Games around the corner," NOC-K deputy President Shadrack Maluki said.

The NOCK will introduce talks and online initiatives to allow athletes to access information.

"It is actually a bit late, it should have come much earlier," Maluki admitted.

"This is a very defining moment for us at the National Olympic Committee of Kenya because, we are marking another milestone in our partnership development with strategic stakeholders that add value to our athletes and assist them to perform optimally in their specialties," NOCK secretary general Francis Mutuku said.

"This comes very well at the right time as we go towards the Commonwealth Games later, but we are saying its not just Games orientated.

"This is a support programme we want to avail to our athletes because of its need and its timeliness.

"Once the conversation on mental health is changed then people start seeking assistance." 

Athletes will be given training in how to identify and manage conditions related to mental health.

It comes after the Kenyan backroom staff at the Tokyo Olympics was bolstered to include specialists in strength and conditioning, nutrition and mental health.

The Tufunguke Wanaspoti campaign was also discussed earlier this year at a conference in memory of Agnes Tirop, a long-distance runner who was brutally murdered only a few weeks after competing at the Tokyo Olympics.