World Mental Health Day: A conversation Zimbabwe needs to start taking seriously

While the discussion has been ramped up across the world on mental health, it is still something on the back burner in most Zimbabwean spaces.

PIC: Stu – Burnt out

The theme for 2017 World Health Day, on every 10 October, isĀ Mental health in the workplace.

While countries like the United Kingdom and South Africa can show you percentages of the workforce that suffered from depression resulting in missing work our data in Zimbabwe remains sparce although it is improving.

Sure, we can talk about the fact that most of our people are in the informal sector, but the collating of data should still be possible if there is the recognition in the consciousnesses that depression is a real issue.

At present the estimate is that 25% of the population suffers from depression.

Mental health support remains small and although projects such as the Friendship Bench which has been rolled out widely have assisted and are helping deal issues as best as they can in the short term. That has helped in data collection.

A study referenced in a VOA news article said:

The study involved more than 550 patients. After six months, 14 percent of the patients in the friendship bench group reported symptoms of depression, compared to 50 percent in a control group. They were also five times less likely to have suicidal thoughts.

And yet among the general population, very little is known about depression. It is often treated especially among men as a sign of weakness and many suffer in abject silence.

Many are left to their own devices and added the collective uncertainties the nation has, coupled with the private struggles, we have a serious problem.

And for those working in formal sector, missing work because of depression doesn’t seem like an option. You just pitch up and perform at 40%. And how much is that bleeding the economy?