Rise in Mental Health cases worrying
13 December 2016
The Harare City Council’s Health department has reported that there has been a worrying rise in mental health illnesses as a result of gender based violence, substance abuse and other economic challenges over the past few years.
A City Health official, Sister Grace Chakabva, told people gathered at Machipisa, Highfield to commemorate International Human Rights Day last Friday that more cases of mental illness are received at council clinics due to a number of factors.
“Many people do not even know that they are ill because the problem is mental and not physical. The cases that we are receiving are from women and children up to the age of 24 because they suffer most abuse and discrimination. Physical abuse is one of the major causes to mental illness,” said Sister Chakabva.
The International Human Rights Day, commemorated on December 10, marking the end of the 16 Days of Activism against Gender Based Violence Campaign, comes at a time reports indicate that gender based violence was on the increase in the country.
Chakabva said the most worrying trend was that most of the victims of abuse do not know that they are being abused.
“Some of the abuse is shocking as we receive cases of children having been doused in paraffin by their step parents. This abuse has also led to an increase in substance abuse among our teenagers up to the age of 24. The abused youth think they will be finding solution by resorting to substance abuse including hard drugs such as cocaine that may lead to mental illness,” she said.
The International Human Rights Day commemorations in Highfield were organised by EDZAI ISU Trust, a community organisation that seeks to bridge the gap between rights holders and duty bearers.
The event was marked by a soccer tournament at Zimbabwe Grounds and an official programme at the Machipisa footbridge. EDZAI ISU is in the process of reinventing the footbridge into a theatre venue but maintaining its main purpose of being a footbridge.
An estimated 1.3 million Zimbabweans have some form of mental illness, according Government data.
According to a situational analysis by the Ministry of Health, USAid and US President Emergency Plan for Aids Relief 2012 titled Mental health and HIV Service Integration in Zimbabwe, mental illness, particularly depression, is a serious medical condition with a significant public health impact in Zimbabwe.