BY STAFF REPORTER
A MAJORITY of Zimbabweans do not have access to mental health services as the country only has 20 registered clinical psychologists and nine mental health institutions to cater for its over 14 million population.
This was said by Summit Care Trust mental health advocate officer Tanatswa Chikaura in a statement to commemorate the World Mental Health Week which begins today and ends on May 16.
Summit Care Trust deals with issues pertaining to adolescent youth sexual and reproductive health rights, livelihoods, human rights, governance and advocacy.
Chikaura said mental health illnesses were prevalent in all sectors of society and within communities but often went unattended to, and undetected.
“Our research has shown that there is a yawning treatment gap for mental health in Zimbabwe and Africa,” Chikaura said.
“An article by Doctors Without Borders (2017) stated that Zimbabwe has 20 registered clinical psychologists and nine mental health institutions. With a population that is over 14 million this means that the majority of the Zimbabwean citizens do not have access to mental health facilities,” she said.
Chikaura said another point of major concern was that the majority of Zimbabweans could afford mental help therapy and in some instances the institutions that offered the therapy were not accessible to the ordinary people, a situation which has also been worsened by COVID-19.
She said throughout the week, her organisation would highlight how mental well-being affected livelihoods, human rights, governance and advocacy, and sexual and reproductive health rights in Zimbabwe.
“We have lined up psychologists, lawyers, media personnel, teachers, medical doctors, parents and young people and adolescents to come and share their experiences on mental health,” Chikaura said.
She said the week’s events would also touch on the value of integrating mental healthcare into government programmes and policies.
“The event will bring together community organisations that are fighting to have Mental Health recognised in our country, inspiring a united vision of a person’s right to dignity and right to care. It will also bring to the fore personal experiences of mental health challenges with individuals openly sharing their experiences and in the end acquire information on how best they can be assisted for sustainable solutions,” she said.