Every year the world celebrates World Mental Health Day on the tenth of October as part of efforts by the World Health Organisation (WHO) to strenghthen efforts to raise awareness and create synergies that raise resources to fight mental illness.
Zimbabwe has not been spared from these initiatives as mental illnesses are gradually on the increase with the Covid 19 pandemic worsening the scenario.
The country is fighting to integrate mental health and related issues into the mainstream health sector by de-centralising the availability of services from mental health institutions to the community level.
Speaking in an interview, Ministry of Health and Child Care Deputy Director Mental Health, Dr Sacrifice Chirisa, said the Ministry has put in place a number of programmes as part of its response plan towards mental health and ensuring the availability of mental health treatment at the community level was the first port of call.
"Programmes include the re-introduction of the clinical psychologists' programme at the University of Zimbabwe, a development that seeks to increase the number of trained and practising psychologists in the country.
"The other program is focused on a community-based approach to treating people at the grassroots level by equipping layman and other interested stakeholders with the skills to administer mental health-related first aid," explained Dr. Chirisa.
He went on to elaborate on how covid 19 has disturbed the availability of services.
"The pandemic left people isolated and anxious and most feared contracting or passing on the virus whilst the movement of services was also disturbed by the lockdown restrictions," said Dr. Chirisa.
Speaking on the issue of technology, Dr Chirisa said there are a number of positives which we can talk about regarding the use of the internet as it can be used as a tool to spread information and awareness.
However, he emphasized that overindulgence can pose serious dangers such as cyber-bullying, anxiety, trauma, and isolation. He also said technology use needs to be revisited and regulated as part of measures to reduce mental health-related illnesses.
The theme for World Mental Health Day 2020 is"More apt for us, as a nation, as we work towards increasing investment &access for Mental Health.