Call to fight stigma associated with mental health

Zimbabwe

Hanganani Nleya

Zimbabweans have been encouraged to fight the stigma associated with mental health.

The call was made by the Executive Director and Founder of the African Institute for Ending Bullying Depression and Suicide (AFRIBS)Zenani Masuku on the side-lines of a two day workshop to educate members of the public on the importance of mental health, in Harare recently.

Masuku said it is important to find ways in which support can be established across the country in light of increasing cases of mental disorders.

 “We understand the sensitivity of mental health and the urgent need to be careful on how the issue can be handled and our intention is to change the narrative of how the subject matter has been addressed in the past,” added Masuku.

The workshop, which attracted people from various fields, sought to cover the gap in mental health services in Zimbabwe through the introduction of peer to peer support groups.

“Many people have mental health concerns from time to time. But a mental health concern becomes a mental illness when ongoing signs and symptoms cause frequent stress and affect one’s ability to work as they normally would”, said Masuku.

According to the World Health Organisation, mental disorders comprise a broad range of problems with different symptoms. However, they are generally characterized by some combination of abnormal thoughts, emotions, behaviour and relationships with others. Examples are schizophrenia, depression, intellectual disabilities and disorders due to drug abuse. Most of these disorders can be successfully treated.

World Mental Health Day is commemorated on October 10 annually in over 150 countries. It is a day for global mental health education, awareness and advocacy against social stigma.