In a move to address the psychological needs of the nation the Mental Health Department within the Ministry of Health and Child Care is set to roll out Psychological First Aid (PFA) training which is an evidence based modular intervention designed to help adults, adolescents as well as children during and after a crisis.
Acting Director Mental Health Services, Dr Sacrifice Chirisa indicated the adverse effects of COVID-19 on the mental well-being of citizens and the need to ensure the provision of necessary mental health care services.
“The COVID-19 pandemic and resulting economic downturn have negatively affected many people’s mental health and created new barriers for people already suffering from mental illness and substance use disorders.
“Many have been exposed to poor mental health outcomes due to experiencing situations that are linked to isolation job or income loss,” said Dr Chirisa,
The training will conducted in phases and an initial 305 trainees from mental health professionals, religious leaders and volunteers will undergo training both physically and online.
The initiative, which is to be launched this month would start by training 35 mental health workers comprised of Provincial psychologists, psychiatrist, occupational therapists, social workers as well as psychiatric Nurses.
“This pandemic has caused feelings of anxiety as people are fearful for themselves or loved ones falling ill and are uncertain of the repercussions of the pandemic and in this the health care worker is not left out,” he added.
Poor mental health due to burnout among front-line workers and increased anxiety or mental illness among those with poor physical health is of concern.
Those with mental illness and substance-use disorders prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, and those newly affected, will likely require mental health services hence the need to for the training,” said Dr Chirisa.
At present, Zimbabwe has 17 registered public health psychiatrist who are largely located in the capital hence the need to capacitate more mental health practitioners at provincial and district levels. The training will ensure access to mental health care for the populace thus in line with the goal of Universal Health Coverage.