COMMENT: Mental issues on the rise

DUE to the high-speed pressure of the modern world, a majority of human beings grapple with mental issues at one time or another. The major difference is that some get to a stage where they have to get urgent assistance in mental institutions while some keep it under wraps and appear normal.

In 2019, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO), 1 in every 8 people, or 970 million people around the world were living with a mental disorder, with anxiety and depressive disorders the most common. In 2020, the number of people living with anxiety and depressive disorders rose significantly because of the COVID-19 pandemic.  


“While effective prevention and treatment options exist, most people with mental disorders do not have access to effective care. Many people also experience stigma, discrimination and violations of human rights,” reads a statement from WHO.

Chances are high that most of the people we meet are having a mental struggle. It could be trying to cope with economic, societal, emotional or peer pressure or just plain anxiety.

The good thing is that effective prevention and treatment options exist for all leading mental conditions that include; dementia, anxiety disorders, depression, bipolar disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), Schizophrenia, eating disorders, disruptive behaviour and dissocial disorders, and Neuro developmental disorders.

With that in mind, it is always important to spare a thought for others and understand that some irrational actions stem from mental disorders, both diagnosed and undiagnosed.

Mental challenges are highly prevalent in most societies but sometimes people are afraid to seek help because there is stigma attached to mental illness.

For instance, a local psychiatrist who cannot be named for ethical reason, estimates that in Zimbabwe, up to 95 percent of people- mostly elderly- who are found wandering about residential areas and get labeled witches or wizards simply have mental challenges.

“I can say about 3 percent are stage managed occurrences by so-called prophets and inyangas to make people believe they have extraordinary power, while the other 2 percent could be due to unexplained causes,” said the shrink.

Experts say the biggest favour society can give to people with mental challenges is to support them and show them love. So, when we see naked people roaming around, instead of rushing to beat the living daylights out of them or taking images to share on social; media, where such people get ridiculed, it is important to empathise with them and get them the help they sorely need.

Ensuring they get to a mental hospital like Ingutsheni Central Hospital in Bulawayo for treatment, is among the good things we can do for them.

Ingutsheni Central Hospital

Drug and substance abuse has been attributed to the growing number of mental health related illnesses in the country. Bulawayo is facing a growing challenge of drug and substance abuse among its young and with statistics indicating that Ingutsheni Central Hospital attends to at least 250 patients a month.

WHO notes that anyone can have mental challenges, so it is important to note that stigmatising, say a neighbour because they have mental challenges may backfire
when tomorrow it happens to you. 

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