By Senzeni Ncube
One million people in Zimbabwe suffer from mental and neurological disorders and most of them do not access professional help due to stigma and discrimination.
This came out during a mental health awareness campaign held under the theme ‘Putting mental health on the radar’ in Bulawayo on Friday.
The campaign was hosted by Ingutsheni Central Hospital.
In a speech read on his behalf by Health Service Board (HSB) chairman Dr Paulinus Sikhosana, the health minister Dr Obadiah Moyo said despite the availability of treatment, nearly two-thirds of people with known mental disorder never seek professional help.
“In most cases, stigma, discrimination, neglect and limited knowledge prevent care and treatment from reaching people with mental and neurological disorders.
“Hence the need for awareness campaign so that communities are empowered and they take an active role in reducing morbidity due to mental ill health,” said Dr Moyo.
He said one in four people worldwide have been affected by mental or neurological disorders at some point in their lives.
“One of four people worldwide have been affected by mental or neurological disorders at some point in their lives. 450million people suffer from mental and neurological disorders worldwide. One million people in Zimbabwe suffer from mental and neurological disorders,” Min Moyo said.
“Most mental disorders can be prevented. 80 percent of persons with Schizophrenia can be free from relapse and with proper treatment and psychotherapy, 60% of persons with depression can recover fully.”
He said most people can be successfully treated as outpatients.
“Most people who are suffering from mental illness can be successfully treated as outpatients and in the comfort of their homes as opposed to institutional care,” the minister said.
Minister Moyo said the Ministry is now in the process of establishing rehabilitative centres for drugs and alcohol abuse at Ingutsheni Central Hospital and has since spearheaded the development of a Psycho Active Substances and Alcohol policy to help reduce mental illnesses.
Meanwhile, Chief Executive Officer for Ingutsheni Central Hospital, Ernest Manyawu said there is a lot of stigma attached to mental disorders.
“There is a lot of stigma to mental disorders, there is a need for communities to be aware of it so that they can assist people living with mental disorders.”
Moreover, Minister of State for Bulawayo Metropolitan, Judith Ncube said the mental health burden in Bulawayo is high.
“The mental health burden in Bulawayo is high with an average of about 2 thousand people treated monthly at Ingutsheni outpatients clinic,” Min. Ncube said.
She said the mental health awareness campaign comes at a time Bulawayo has seen a spike in the use of illegal substances by the youths.
“Bulawayo has seen the use of substances by the youths in what is called vuzu parties and mental health awareness campaign comes timeously with the hope that it will assist in enabling our youths to learn assertive skills to say no to drugs, no to immorality and yes to healthy minds,” said the minister.