Southern Africa: Zimbabwe Lagging Behind in Embracing Mental Health - Psychiatrist

Mental health, depression, suicide
10 December 2019

Zimbabwe is still lagging behind in embracing mental health issues with social stigma and discrimination worsening the problem, Deputy Director for Mental Health Services in the Ministry of Health and Child Care, Dr Chido Rwafa has said.

Dr Rwafa said suicide was now the second leading cause of death among 15-29 year olds.

"This is mainly because most of the population still associates mental health issues with evil spirits, demons and curses both traditionally and among various apostolic sects in Zimbabwe," said Dr Rwafa.

She added that ,mental health was still stigmatized a lot, making it one of the least understood topics, especially in Africa and in particular Zimbabwe.

"Everyone out there is depressed to some extent. A person with mental health can get medication and live a normal life. Mental health is treatable, so what we need to do is to make people aware more rather than shun it," she said.

Research has shown that Africa has the highest number of people who suffer from depression. According to a recent study by researchers at Australia's University of Queensland, the Middle East and North African regions suffer the world's highest depression rates, which have resultantly led to a massive loss of lives over the years.

According to a recent study, one in every four Zimbabwean has suffered from a mental health condition, yet there is little or no acknowledgment of how to deal with the conditions.

Countrywide, there are six State institutions which offer services to mental health patients, but recent media reports have highlighted that these institutions are overcrowded.

Anxiety and depression, alcohol and substance abuse disorders and organic mental disorder are among some of the most common mental health problems in Zimbabwe.

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