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Mental health cases spike in Zimbabwe

by Staff reporter
13 Oct 2023 at 06:29hrs | Views
Health experts have expressed concern over a significant increase in mental health breakdowns among adolescents and teenagers due to drug and substance abuse. This issue was raised as the country observed World Mental Health Day.

Itai Rusike, the executive director of the Community Working Group on Health, highlighted the current inadequacy of public health facilities in treating mental health conditions. He noted that during the COVID-19 pandemic, many people experienced mental health challenges related to stress, sadness, anxiety, loneliness, and depression. Public health facilities currently have limited capacity to screen, diagnose, and treat mental health conditions, as they are overwhelmed by issues related to drug abuse and a shortage of healthcare workers.

Rusike further pointed out that young people are the most affected by mental health issues, with 40% of patients at Ingutsheni Psychiatric Hospital and other healthcare institutions being victims of drug abuse. He attributed this to the lack of economic opportunities for youth and their idle time, which often leads to experimentation with harmful habits.

According to the United Nations Children's Fund, 50% of all mental health conditions begin to manifest at the age of 14, but many cases remain undetected and untreated due to the absence of proper support mechanisms in most developing countries.

Johannes Marisa, president of the Medical and Dental Private Practitioners Association of Zimbabwe, linked the high unemployment rate to substance abuse among youth, resulting in a surge in mental health cases. He mentioned that substance-induced psychosis is currently prevalent, with drugs such as crystal meth and marijuana implicated. Marisa suggested that while private rehabilitation services are expensive and limited, people should take advantage of free mental health drugs provided by the government, which are available at various centers.

Source - newsday