Prioritise mental healthcare, govt urged

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MENTAL health specialists have called on government to prioritise mental care by training more specialists and building rehabilitation centres as the number of mental impairments related to economic challenges are becoming rampant.

Global Institute of Emotional Health and Wellness (GIEHW) director Tony Friday recently said as the economic situation worsens; it becomes harder for most Zimbabweans to stay mentally healthy.

Friday complained that the country only has limited resources for mental health patients to get counselling and medical attention, urging government and civil society organisations to come together and address the situation.
“The majority of the population is on survival mode which for the most part is stressful. Stress hormones are good in the short term but not as a way of life. Most Zimbabweans are living under massive stress, which progresses to more serious mental and emotional health issues like depression, anxiety, personality disorders just to mention a few.

“All of this is happening in a country that has shockingly few facilities to deal with mental health issues. A time has come for government, civil society, the corporate world and ordinary citizens to work together to provide solutions to this problem,” Friday said.

The GIEHW director said his organisation is taking advantage of the digital space to provide digital interventions for mental health and will be launching a mental health application soon.

“We are giving the youth access to professional help through an online counselling platform and we are launching a mobile app in February to reach even more people and all these services are available for free.
“We chose to focus on digital mental health interventions because young people are making use of mobile devices and therefore are easily accessible there. The country as a whole needs more certified professionals and more mental facilities at public hospitals to help tackle these issues,” he added.

Meanwhile, Health minister Obadiah Moyo recently said government acknowledges that it doesn’t have enough facilities for mental health and intends to build more.

Moyo said some mental cases do not require extreme measures like taking patients to centres like Ingutsheni when they only need counselling services after experiencing depression.

“We, as a ministry, realise that we do not have adequate facilities for rehabilitation. There are other issues where someone should not be going to extreme mental institutions like Ingutsheni.

“We must have some friendlier environments. We are now coming up with rehabilitation centres as part of the national strategy launched recently. Rehabilitation centres should be accessed by everyone, including members of Parliament, ministers and the general public,” he sai

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